As traffic fatalities rise in Nevada, what can be done to prevent deadly crashes?

Data shows deaths from car crashes have increased dramatically both in Nevada and nationally.
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 9:17 PM PST
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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Data shows deaths from car crashes have increased dramatically both in Nevada and nationally.

Last year, Nevada saw 382 traffic fatalities, marking the deadliest year on roadways since 2006. A crash Saturday involving 15 people, killing nine in North Las Vegas has put a spotlight on a what’s being called a national crisis.

“We get a report every month of the number of fatalities and we are at record levels,” said Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones.

Jones echoed the push away from the use of “accident” to describe incidents like the crash in North Las Vegas.

“It wasn’t an accident. It was someone who had previously been arrested for speeding and other crimes driving twice the legal limit,” Jones said.

Speed is a factor in about one-third of deadly crashes in Clark County and nationally. Jones said this latest crash should be another wake-up call to those who choose to break the law.

“Slow down … because you could be the person who takes the lives of nine people, entire families were wiped out as the result of one person’s dumb decisions,” Jones said.

With a number of high-profile deadly crashes lately where the driver at fault was speeding, what can be done to stop it from happening again?

“Roadway design is part of it, enforcement is certainly part of it. I know [the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department] is already committed to stepping up their enforcement,” Jones said.

“We have data that shows that citations over 100 mph have gone dramatically up in the last three years,” said Andrew Bennett, director of Clark County Office of Traffic Safety. The office was recently created with the purpose of reducing fatalities on local roadways.

“We’re going to use education, enforcement, engineering and EMS, which the county is heavily involved in to build that safe system, to put all those resources behind this one effort to eliminate fatalities,” Bennett said.

The U.S. Department of Transportation just released a new strategy to reduce fatalities on the roads. According to DOT data, about 20,000 people were killed in crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18% from the same period in 2020.

According to Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, the numbers are projected to continue to rise.

“We’re going to be posting as a department our official fatality data for the third quarter of 2021, and I need to tell you looking at the preliminary numbers, it’s not good. This is a national crisis,” Buttigieg said.

To combat rising traffic fatalities, the federal government is investing billions of dollars to improve roadway safety. That includes reducing speeds, redesigning roads and boosting car safety features such as automatic emergency braking.

In the last decade, more than 350,000 lives have been lost on America’s roadways.