Report says Nevada is home to one of the deadliest counties for driving

In a breakdown of numbers in a new report, Esmeralda County in Nevada has historically been one of the deadliest counties for driving in the nation, per capita. Clark County, on the other hand, has been one of the safest.

The report, compiled from 20 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, takes fatality numbers and indexes the counties in safety by fatalities per capita.

Esmeralda County came in second in the nation, with a rate of 0.0697 — or 58 fatalities in the past 20 years. Clark County, ranked as one of the safest, had 3,623 fatalities in the same period, the report said. While the data may not be incorrect, it can be misleading.

In sparsely populated counties, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia said it was an “apples and oranges” comparison, because one fatality can skew the average. For example, there was a 300 percent increase in fatalities in Churchill County from 2013 to 2014, rising from one fatal accident to four, according to NDOT.

In the same year, Clark County had 170 fatalities, down about 10 percent from the previous year.

With 24,063 residents in Churchill County, it makes sense that three fatalities could lead to a ranking of one of the most dangerous places to drive in the nation — it’s just a matter of taking all aspects of the data into consideration.

In the less populated counties, Illia noted that there may be fewer traffic controls, such as street lighting and different methods of enforcement.

In a press release, Illia said the department oversees 735 miles of freeways and roads in Clark County, “which is about 13.7 percent of the total network.”

Esmeralda County, by contrast, includes a section of U.S. 95 and few other major roads.

The rural counties in Nevada are also populated with very long stretches of desert roadway, which can cause drivers to experience “highway hypnosis,” described as “a hypnotic trance” that alters alertness while driving.

Rural Nevada is also home to “The Loneliest Road in the World,” U.S. Route 50, which crosses the state horizontally through the Great Basin. The road is known for its long stretches of, well, nothingness.

Here is how the counties of Nevada rank, according to the report:

  • Washoe County — 690 fatalities over 20 years
  • Clark County — 3,623
  • Douglas County — 128
  • Lyon County — 152
  • Storey County — 14
  • Elko County — 287
  • Nye County — 248
  • Humboldt County — 111
  • Churchill County — 159
  • White Pine County — 89
  • Lander County — 57
  • Pershing County — 86
  • Mineral County — 58
  • Lincoln County — 73
  • Eureka County — 58
  • Esmeralda County — 58

Contact Kristen DeSilva at 702-477-3895 or Find her on Twitter: @kristendesilva

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