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‘Impairment and speed’: Nevada traffic deaths up nearly 40% from 2023

Updated April 29, 2024 - 11:35 am

Nevada roads are trending deadlier this year, with nearly 40 percent more fatal crashes through March than during the same period in 2023. And the situation is worse on Clark County roads.

Eighty-six fatal crashes have occurred on state roads through March, resulting in 97 deaths, according to Nevada Office of Traffic Safety data. That’s an increase of nearly 39 percent through the first quarter of 2024, compared with fatal crashes during the same period last year. During March alone, 39 fatalities occurred on Nevada roads, up 50 percent over March 2023’s 26 traffic-related deaths.

The percent increase in Clark County is even higher at 65 percent, going from 49 crash-related fatalities through March 2023 to 81 deaths during the same time frame this year.

“We’re seeing a lot of the factors that we’re always trying to eliminate,” said Anita Pepper, spokeswoman for the traffic safety office. “Impairment and speed are still the two biggest issues on the roadway.”

The state continues to push various education and enforcement campaigns and Lyft discounts around holidays and events where people are more likely to drink, aimed at curbing crashes on state roads.

“A lot of it comes down to choices people are making on the road,” Pepper said. “We’re always trying to educate people and give them choices. … When someone gets behind the wheel, it’s ultimately up to them to make the right choice and to make good decisions on the road.”

Rising motorcycle fatalities

Motorcyclist fatalities also have seen notable increases so far this year. Those deaths have jumped 183 percent statewide, increasing from six during the first quarter of 2023 to 17 through the first three months of this year. Pedestrian deaths are up 61 percent, going from 23 deaths through March last year, to 37 during the same time this year.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month, and the state plans to put out messaging about more motorcycles being on the road as the weather warms up, Pepper said.

Motorcycle crashes often occur when autos fail to yield to motorcycles, she said.

Pepper recommends that pedestrians make eye contact with drivers to make sure they know that they’re there, to pay attention while walking, and to limit distractions. Drivers should also limit distractions, drive the speed limit, come to a full stop on a red light, and always expect a pedestrian to be at a crosswalk.

Making streets safer

One way to increase safety for vulnerable road users is to incorporate more safe street projects in high danger areas. For instance, the city of Las Vegas is adding safe street elements to a stretch of Stewart Avenue between Sixth Street and Nellis Boulevard.

“I am more hopeful than I ever have been that improvements on streets where vulnerable road users die are coming, due to everyone in the road building scope adopting Safe Systems and the Safe Streets for All funds coming to Southern Nevada under the Infrastructure Law,” said Erin Breen, director of the Road Equity Alliance Project. “I trust we will also see smaller ‘pop up’ improvements on other roads that have high numbers of fatalities. It might be a lower speed limit, a new crossing or better lighting, but these kinds of things will happen. ”

Safe streets include various elements aimed at increasing safety including wider sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, improved lighting, pedestrian awareness and lower speed limits.

“The safe streets approach absolutely helps for pedestrian safety and for pedestrians and autos to interact with each other in a safe manner,” Pepper said.

If drivers would make smarter decisions behind the wheel, death numbers would trend downward, Pepper said.

“There are people who are looking at their phones, playing with the radio, maybe eating, putting on makeup in the car. …If people would stop driving impaired, use a sober driver, use a rideshare, if people would obey the speed limit ,we’d see a lot less crashes on the road.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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