After six months of increases in fatal crashes throughout the state, November brought a welcome dip in deadly wrecks on Nevada roads.
Last month 17 fatal crashes took place on state roads, a 35 percent decrease over the same month last year, resulting in 19 fatalities, compared with 26 in 2017, the state Office of Traffic Safety reported Friday.
Clark County was in line with the state numbers, seeing a 20 percent decrease year-over-year, with 12 fatal crashes last month, down from 15 in November 2017.
The decline came in a month where traditionally there has been an increase because of the Thanksgiving holiday, officials said.
“Historically November is a month that trends up in Nevada,” said Andrew Bennett, spokesman with the Department of Public Safety. “We would like to attribute some of this decrease to the ongoing education and enforcement around DUI that we started in late October, but it’s difficult to point out specifically what caused the decrease.”
Since the enforcement started on Oct. 24, the DUI strike team, made up of Metropolitan Police Department officers and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers, has arrested 155 suspected DUI drivers.
For the year, both the state and the Las Vegas Valley are above last year’s fatal counts, with 306 fatalities on the road in Nevada and 208 in Clark County. Those numbers represent a 6.3 percent increase statewide and a 9.5 percent increase in Clark County.
Despite the rise overall, the decreased November numbers have the Department of Public Safety hoping to see a similar trend through the holiday season and into the end of the year.
“We are glad to see the numbers head in the right direction and we hope to see another decrease in December,” Bennett said. “For motorists, have a sober ride. Between ride-share, public transportation and sober friends, we need to make sure everyone gets from point A to point B safely.”
The department also encourages motorists to call 911 or NHP to report suspected impaired drivers. “It might save a life,” Bennett said.
Auto-pedestrian deaths are down by 20 percent statewide and by 8 percent in Clark County at this point last year. The decrease is a welcome sight, especially to Clark County residents, as the 78 pedestrian fatalities last year marked 2017 as the deadliest on record for pedestrians.
With 57 pedestrian deaths already recorded and an average of just over five pedestrian deaths per month this year on valley roads, 2018 is on track to at least tie as the second deadliest on record.
One more Interstate 15 bypass route
After my story last week on Interstate 15 alternative routes to avoid holiday-related gridlock, a bevy of readers reached out recommending another route.
The suggested route avoids driving on I-15 completely, with the added benefit of more scenery, according to reader and Las Vegas Councilman Bob Coffin, one of the many readers to chime in on the matter.
The route is 229 miles from U.S. Highway 95 near Boulder City, taking an estimated three hours and 51 minutes in normal traffic.
Beginning in Las Vegas, motorists can hop on U.S. Highway 93 southbound to Interstate 11 where they’ll exit at U.S. Highway 95 and head southbound for 34 miles.
Motorists will then turn right onto Nipton Road and travel for 28 miles. From there, turn left onto Ivanpah Road for 3.2 miles, then right onto Morning Star Mine Road for 14.8 miles and onto Kelso Cima Road for 19 miles.
From Kelso Cima road turn left on Kelbaker Road for 33.9 miles, leading travelers to National Trails Highway where they’ll take a right.
“Kelso has a really well-known railroad depot built very similar in Mission style like Caliente and the original Las Vegas station,” Coffin said. “This railroad route was chosen by engineers of the day who did not have diesel-electric to power up higher elevations.”
After traveling on National Trails Highway for 6.6 miles, motorists will continue onto Amboy Road north to California’s Highway 62 westbound (41.8 miles).
Motorists should stay on that highway for 48.7 miles and, as they near Interstate 10, keep left at the fork and follow signs for I-10 west toward Los Angeles.
“Stay on course to more of the beautiful high desert through 29 Palms to Palm Springs and I-10 and then West to LA.,” Coffin said.
US 95 offramp closure
The U.S. Highway 95 northbound off-ramp to Charleston Boulevard will shut to traffic overnight.
The closure will remain in effect from 10 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m. Monday.
A crash earlier this year involving a cement truck damaged a sound wall, leading to the need for an overnight closure to carry out repairs, the Nevada Department of Transportation said.
Fatalities by type in 2018
Pedestrian: 57 deaths
Other (scooter): 2