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Grim milestone: Nevada roads see deadliest year in a decade

Updated November 8, 2021 - 6:28 pm

It’s official: Nevada’s roadways are having their deadliest year in a decade.

Over the weekend, the state reported its 330th death, surpassing the previous record set in 2016 and matched in 2018, said Nevada Department of Transportation director Kristina Swallow. She made the announcement during Monday morning’s Nevada Transportation Board of Directors meeting.

This year’s death toll included at least 66 pedestrians and 67 people who were not wearing seat belts or other restraints.

Fifteen deaths have already been reported in November, almost two per day, said Zero Fatalities program director Andrew Bennett. As of the end of October, year-to-date deaths were up 24 percent over 2020.

“It’s obviously concerning that we still have almost two whole months, easily six weeks, left in this year and we’ve already surpassed this mark,” Bennett said.

The grim milestone arrived almost a week after then-Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs struck and killed the 23-year-old driver of a compact SUV with his Corvette in the southwest Las Vegas Valley, according to police.

Ruggs, 22, was reportedly traveling 156 mph on Rainbow Boulevard shortly before he struck Tina Tintor’s car near the road’s intersection with Spring Valley Parkway. His blood-alcohol level was 0.16 percent, twice the state’s legal limit, according to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office.

Ruggs will face multiple felony counts of DUI and reckless driving, according to court records.

Excessive speed has been a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes in the state in recent years, Bennett said. More than 40 percent of fatal crashes involve drivers impaired by alcohol, marijuana or another substance.

On Saturday afternoon, less than a week after Ruggs’ crash, a passenger in a Tesla traveling “at an excessive rate of speed” in the southwest valley was fatally ejected from the car after it became airborne. The car’s driver was arrested for suspected DUI and reckless driving, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

“It’s a choice to drive impaired. It’s a choice to speed and drive recklessly,” Bennett said. “I hope people get the message it could be them, and someday it might be.”

The Clark County Commission plans to create an Office of Traffic Safety, Commissioner Justin Jones said.

The county is home to the bulk of Nevada’s population and more than 180 people have died on its roadways this year.

“People are driving too fast on our roadways, people are driving without paying attention, people are driving drunk,” Jones said. “We have to take specific action. The Office of Traffic Safety, I think, will be the county’s first step to that.”

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Mick Akers contributed to this report.

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