With just under one month left in the year, 2021 is already the deadliest on Nevada roads in 14 years.
Through November there have been 349 crash-related fatalities, trailing 2007’s total of 373 deaths, according to Andrew Bennett, Nevada State Police spokesman.
“We still have three weeks left in the year, and in 2007 it was at 373, and I think that we’ll end up right around there,” Bennett said. “December is an extremely deadly time for us, and it’s a point of concern.”
The highest death total noted by the state’s records that date back to 1991 is 2006, when 431 fatalities were recorded.
The traffic death count during the first 11 months of 2021 is 20 percent above the 292 seen during the same span last year.
Of Nevada’s total, 209 of the deaths have occurred on roads in Clark County, state data revealed.
Deaths of motorcyclists on state roads have seen a dramatic spike, going from 55 through November 2020 to 71 through the first 11 months of 2021, representing a 29 percent increase.
Speed and impairment continue to be the two biggest contributing factors to fatal crashes. Those two factors were emphasized in the Nov. 2 wreck involving then-Raiders player Henry Ruggs.
Prosecutors say Ruggs was traveling 156 mph shortly before impact, with a blood alcohol level measured a 0.16 percent, twice the legal limit for Nevada drivers, when he crashed into the vehicle driven by 23-year-old Tina Tintor, killing the woman and her dog.
Although that case has received much attention due to Ruggs’ status, Bennett said that with the amount of deadly crashes occurring in the state, at some point everyone will suffer the effects of one.
“We have to get folks to understand that if you haven’t been affected by traffic safety, it’s a matter of when at this point,” Bennett said. “It’s preventable, but we’re at the point where we’re having more than one fatal every day.”
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said one way fatal crashes could be decreased is by holding those who receive traffic citations accountable, to curb dangerous driving behavior.
That is proving to be somewhat difficult, Lombardo said, as Clark County has a backlog of traffic citations due to a lack of resources. He noted that the issue did not extend to the city of Las Vegas.
“Consequences matter. It’s cause and effect,” Lombardo said Tuesday in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If you believe that you are going to be held accountable for a negative action, that usually curtails negative action. As a result of the pandemic and the court system being shut down, we have a significant backlog on traffic citations issued to individuals in the court system.”
The sheriff said that has led to “a perception that nothing is going to occur as a result of getting a citation.”