Updated January 9, 2023 - 5:41 pm
Last year ranked as the fifth-deadliest year on Nevada roads in the past three decades.
Nevada roads saw 382 fatalities in 2022, only three fewer than the total seen in 2021, according to data released Monday by the Nevada Department of Public Safety.
The crash-related deaths were the result of 352 fatal wrecks. That number was down 2 percent from 2021, but total deaths in 2022 still nearly matched the prior year’s count of 385.
“We have a challenge with safety here in the state,” outgoing Nevada Department of Transportation Director Kristina Swallow said during Monday’s state Transportation Board of Directors meeting. “We came off of that bad year (2021), but we’re still far off from where we started.”
Impairment and speeding are the largest contributing factors to deadly crashes in the state, Swallow noted.
State data on traffic fatalities dates back to 1991., with 2022 seeing one of the highest traffic death counts in the past 32 years
Last year’s figures trail 2021, 2006 (431), 2005 (427) and 2004 (395), according to state data.
Clark County saw an increase in deadly crashes last year with 246 fatalities, up 4 percent from 2021’s 236 road deaths.
“Every time this report comes out it’s startling,” said Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft. “Each one of these numbers not only represent a life lost but a family destroyed.”
Pedestrian deaths in the state rose 5 percent from 2021 to 2022, accounting for 88 deaths last year, while cyclist deaths jumped 114 percent, going from seven in 2021 to 15 in 2022.
“I strongly believe that paint on pavement is not a protected lane for cyclists,” Naft said. “It’s not enough of a protective barrier. While 3 feet of separation may be the law, I don’t think your average driver necessarily knows that. That requires more education to be in compliance with the state 3-foot law.”
One idea is adding more multiuser trails that separate a bike lane from the roadway with a detached landscaping strip.
“That should be used much more, especially on our faster arterials, where you’re allowed to go 45 mph but in practice are going 55 mph and higher,” Naft said. “An unprotected bicyclist is no match for a heavy vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.”
Motorcyclist fatalities dipped 7 percent year over year, with 2022 seeing 78 deaths — six fewer than the 84 fatalities in 2021.
Fatalities tied to vehicle occupants not buckling up rose 5 percent in 2022 from the previous year, with 79 deaths coming as a result of failing to wear a safety belt. “That’s one I simply don’t understand,” Swallow said. “Pretty much everyone here, for at least the majority, if not all of their life, had seat belts in cars. That’s something we need to continue to work on.”
Clark County’s traffic safety office is analyzing crash data to determine the cause of crashes and where they occur, to best coordinate a safety plan to address those issues.
“Were they people who were not wearing seat belts? … Were there structural engineering problems with the roads they were driving on? Were rates of speed too high or impairment issues? And what of those issues can be addressed through policy changes? The county really is uniquely positioned to get at the root of the problem that we’re experiencing here,” Naft said. “These deaths are in many cases avoidable, whether it’s through engineering or education.”