Despite a slight decrease in traffic fatalities statewide, Southern Nevada is on an upward trajectory.
Through August, there have been 242 traffic related fatalities in Nevada, a 3 percent decrease over the first eight months of 2021.
“That (decrease) is good news,” said Nevada Department of Transportation Director Kristina Swallow.“But just a reminder, last year was the worst year we’ve seen in 16 years. So, we’re hoping to continue to see a decrease.”
Fatal crashes in Clark County accounted for 157 of the state’s total, a mark that was 11 percent above what the area saw through August of last year.
“Across Nevada the rate of fatalities have gone down in many counties, although some are still above where they were last year, including Carson, Lander, Pershing and Clark,” Swallow said.
Traffic fatalities involving vulnerable road users — pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists — are also up in Clark County, with 46 pedestrian deaths through August this year, a 15 percent jump compared to the same time period last year.
Bicyclist deaths were up 125 percent in Clark County this year compared with 2021, rising to nine from four, while motorcyclist fatalities rose 6 percent, to 33 from 31.
Statewide, pedestrian deaths were the same as last year while bicyclist fatalities rose 50 percent and motorcyclist deaths increased 6 percent.
Traffic deaths were down in most rural areas in the state, notably Nye County, where the five fatalities seen through August were 72 percent lower than the 18 deaths during the same time span last year.
Impairment and speeding continued to be the leading causes of fatal accidents on Nevada roads.
Automobile crashes as a whole in Nevada occur slightly more frequently on local roads than on state maintained roads such as highways or freeways.
Between 2015 and 2019, years with the latest full crash data, there were 122,197 crashes on local roads, representing 51 percent of all wrecks in the state, NDOT data revealed. That is compared with 116,981 on state roads.
Hoping to combat the amount of crashes on local roads, NDOT is looking to partner with local agencies to increase safety on local roads.
“Help them figure out the best strategies to address the crashes on their network,” Swallow said.
Nye County and NDOT conducted a pilot program looking to address local road crashes.
The data is being reviewed from that pilot program, which will help the agency develop a long-term program that can be implemented in other counties.
The Regional Transportation Commission has endorsed the process and Swallow hopes to partner with it to implement a program in Clark County.
Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who helped create the county’s office of traffic safety, said he’d welcome any additional assistance to address the dangers of Southern Nevada roads.
The office of traffic safety is less than a year old and is also developing a plan to target problem areas in the Las Vegas Valley.
“The office of traffic safety has already demonstrated itself as an incredible tool at the local level,” Naft said. “Myself and my colleagues have certainly relied on our director’s (Andrew Bennett) expertise, but also having him involved in day-to-day conversations — from policies that we’re considering, to bringing stakeholders together.”