As Fatal Accidents Increase in Nevada and America, What Should be Done?

Falling asleep Behind Wheel | Benson and Bingham

2021 was one of the deadliest years on Nevada roads, and while we are less then two months into 2022, traffic statistics are not looking promising. Clark County commissioner Justin Jones says that “We [Las Vegas] gets a report every month of the number of fatalities and we are at record levels”. This pattern of MVA accident fatalities is not only a problem in Nevada, but nation-wide. Most recently, there was a crash in North Las Vegas at the end of January involving 15 people, which killed nine. Jones emphasized that incidents like these are not “accidents”, and he states “It was not an accident. It was someone who had previously been arrested for speeding and other crimes driving twice the speed limit”. Jones also noted that speed is a big factor in the crashes we are seeing, and it is a factor in one third of fatal crashes in both Clark County and nationally. These accidents continue to be a wakeup call to those who break the law and driving at excessive speeds can make you the person who takes the lives of someone else’s entire family.

A National Crisis

As mentioned before, the rise of fatal accidents is not exclusive to Nevada and is a nationwide pattern. In a report released last month, The U.S Department of Transportation stated that 20,000 people were killed in accidents nationwide in the first part of 2021. This was up eighteen percent from the same time frame in 2020. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg stated that the numbers are projected to rise. In addition, he called this a “national crisis” and in the last decade alone, over 350,000 lives have been lost on America’s roadways. [3]  Additionally, two third of all road fatalities are from two sources:  speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

What Has Been Done?

If these accidents keep happening, what has and should be done? The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police department has already stepped up their enforcement on speeding. The data shows that citations for drivers going 100mph has gone up dramatically in the last three years.[1]

In addition, Clark County has appointed its director, Andrew Bennett, for its newly created Office of Traffic Safety. The office’s goal is to help all traffic related department and agencies to work together to reduce injuries and fatalities on Southern Nevada roads. This includes but is not limited to motorcycle safety, pedestrian safety, DUI prevention, and seatbelt usage. They will also research safety programs and provide recommendations and data for improving roads. [2]

The federal government is also investing billions into improving American roadways. They have reduced speed on many national highways across the country. In addition, they have redesigned roads and modernized infrastructure. Lastly, they have worked to improve car safety features as well as safety standards, for example automatic emergency braking. While these are small steps, The U.S. Department of Transportation has said they will continue to invest in programs promoting traffic safety.

What Can We Do?

While the government and organizations can help promote safety, the true responsibility lies on the drivers to follow safe driving practices and driving responsibly. The following are the most common causes of fatal accidents in the United States:

  • Reckless or Aggressive Driving -Reckless driving puts yourself and others on the road at risk. The most common signs of a reckless driver are following too closely, several lane changes, driving on the road shoulder, racing, and failure to adhere to traffic signs and signals
  • Driving Under the Influence—1/3 of fatal accidents occurs when the blood alcohol level of the driver is .08 or higher. Someone with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.10 may swerve between lanes and lack the ability to use the car’s braking.  Ultimately, driving under the influence has one of the largest impacts on fatalities in not only Nevada but the United States.
  • Weather— Unfamiliar weather conditions can make it difficult to drive and can often obscure driver visibility. In Northern Nevada especially, wintertime can bring a lot of snow. If you are uncomfortable driving in such weather conditions, stay home. If it is necessary to drive, decrease speeds and proceed with ample caution
  • Speed— While technically reckless driving, speed is the cause of 1/3 of fatal accidents. Speeding increases the chance of losing control of your car. In addition, high speeds decrease the effectiveness of road protection systems within your car. We might speed because we are late or impatient but remember the consequences can be severe, and it is better to be late than have to deal with the legal repercussions of a fatality.

If we keep these in mind, we can help keep Nevada roads safe and decrease the number of fatalities in 2022.

[1] https://www.fox5vegas.com/news/as-traffic-fatalities-rise-in-nevada-what-can-be-done-to-prevent-deadly-crashes/article_a279c5f0-831b-11ec-aff1-8707e29d9c5a.html

[2] https://news3lv.com/news/local/clark-county-first-director-traffic-safety-office-deadly-crashes

[3] https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-says-traffic-deaths-rose-12-first-nine-months-2021-31720-2022-02-01/

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