UNLV receives grant to track data, discover traffic safety solutions

Updated: Mar. 29, 2022 at 11:50 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Traffic fatalities are on the rise in Nevada. More collisions stem from impairment on the road than in previous years, according to researchers.

“It’s really increased during COVID, and it’s really staying during COVID. It’s not going down to what it was before, so I think there’s a real opportunity to see if we can make some legislative changes,” trauma surgeon Dr. Deborah Kuhls said.

The UNLV Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine and its department of surgery has received a $437,101 grant from the Nevada Department of Public Safety. The funds will continue the working into research to prevent traffic-related injuries and deaths in the state.

Kuhls, co-investigator Laura Gryder and a team of researchers at the school of medicine have created a database combining crash data and injury data from every trauma center in Nevada over more than a decade. The data provides a deeper understanding of behavior that contributes to crashes on Nevada roads.

“We need to understand it better. We need to figure out ways to intervene. Maybe we need to be tougher in certain aspects about what is OK and not OK,” Kuhls said.

The data collected can discover trends and then use the information to determine what groups outreach should be targeted towards.

The information can also help identify specific intersections or roads that may be more prone to crashes.

“Is there something we can do about the physical environment, flashing lights, more stop lights or change in speed limit,” Kuhls said.

The research group publishes quarterly newsletters focusing on pedestrian crashes, speeding and crash outcomes as well as analyses of other important issues relating to the consequences of traffic crashes in Nevada, according to Kuhls.

Kuhls said this data can be brought to lawmakers, which ideally will lead to changes to traffic safety laws. She also noted that there are lots of federal infrastructure funds being distributed and this research could alert opportunities for improvements to Nevada roads.