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Nevada Traffic Deaths Soar – Police Combatting Rise with More Patrolling

Prior to the beginning of May, and nearing the end of the first half of 2024, Nevada traffic officials announced that Clark County roadways have seen a 65% increase in traffic fatalities compared with this time in 2023 (32 more fatalities than 2023). Since the beginning of 2024, there have been seventy crashes in the state, which has resulted in a total of eighty-one deaths.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety also noted a 47% increase in fatalities statewide, with ninety-seven deaths. Twelve of those deaths were unrestrained passengers, and thirty-seven deaths were pedestrians. [1] Thirty-three of the pedestrian deaths occurred in Clark County, nearly a 95% percent increase from 2023.

Does Increased Traffic Patrol by Nevada State Police Really Help?

Clark County Sheriff, Kevin McMahill, stressed the severity of these statistics, noting that once again these deaths are very avoidable—as with last year, speeding and impairment remain the top contributing factor to fatalities. In an appearance with Nevada Public Radio, McMahill reiterated law enforcement’s commitment to a reduction of these avoidable fatalities stating “We are frankly tired of scraping people up off the streets in Las Vegas” [2].

However, while there has been a two-hundred percent increase in issued traffic citations in Southern Nevada, there has not been a corresponding decrease in fatal accidents. McMahill and Nevada State Police are still hopeful that traffic operations and resulting citations can eventually result in a decline in fatalities. In Mid-April, the Nevada State Police teamed up with Henderson Police to conduct a traffic operation in areas with the most traffic violations, something they identified by the use of Freeway Arterial System of Transportation.  During the operation, a total of 116 citations were handed out, many of which were for running red lights and speeding. Other more uncommon violations included failure to yield, driving without insurance and driving without licenses.

McMahill also notes the importance of advocacy and awareness when it comes to decreasing fatal accidents, something he hopes traffic operations can bring. He notes that when citizens are aware of traffic stops and operations occurring in a certain area, they are more likely to be more careful in those areas. In addition, knowing what behaviors law enforcement are targeting with these traffic operations, can put Nevadans on notice, thus leading to overall more cautious and safe driving practices.

Taking Traffic Safety Serious

At the end of the day, responsibility of driving safely lies to those on the roads, and it is important to be aware of safe driving practices. According to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, most drivers on Nevada roads are between the age of 35 and 49, meaning that for many, it has been between twenty and thirty years since they have taken their driver’s test (Nevada law requires someone to be sixteen years of age to get their driver’s license). [3] This gap in time can result in forgetting some of the nuances of traffic laws, and can also result in reduced caution while on the road. The following are some important driving tips that can maybe refresh your memory:

  • Ignore as many distractions as you can: When on the road, 100% of your attention should be dedicated to driving, even if you are stopped at a red light. This means putting your phone and other electronics away, as well as avoiding eating cumbersome things while operating your car or fiddling with settings in your car/radio. It also means reducing conversations and other interactions with other passengers in your car.
  • Drive defensively: Driving defensively can reduce the chance of getting in an accident, even those where you are not at fault. Driving defensively means that you expect other motorists to make mistakes while driving, and thus you prepare yourself to avoid it. It also entails keeping a two second cushion between yourself and the car in front of you, or four seconds if the weather is poor.
  • Build Time to Drive into Your Schedule: Often haste to get to your destination can result in speeding, as well as careless driving patterns. Instead of rushing, try planning for driving time and any possible delays such as roadwork, traffic etc. This also means setting aside time in your schedule to eat and drink so you are not doing so while behind the wheel.
  • Practice General Safety: This includes simple, often reiterated tips like driving sober, drug-free, and always securing yourself with a seatbelt. It also includes ensuring securing cargo, so you do not need to retrieve items that have fallen on the floor, as well as keeping items such as toll cards in reaching distance. If you find yourself having to retrieve an item, pull over instead of taking your eyes off the road. [4]





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