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Recent UNLV Study Finds Trend in Nevada Fatal Traffic Accidents & Deaths

A group of researchers at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Medical School have been examining traffic data from the last decade in Nevada to find better causes and solutions to rising traffic fatalities across Nevada. The Traffic Safety Research Group recently received grant money from government organizations to take on this project following the report that there were 385 fatalities on Nevada roads in 2021 followed by 396 in 2022, a %3 increase year over year [1].

The Traffic Safety Research Group has identified failure to obey traffic signals, speeding, distracted driving, and impairment to be some of the major reasons for injuries and deaths throughout the state. Dr. Deborah Kuhls, a Las Vegas trauma surgeon and Assistant Dean at UNLV’s School of Medicine, stated that “when we look at death data, we are not really seeing any decreases.” Kuhls, as a trauma surgeon, is no stranger to the devastation caused by traffic accidents on Nevada roadways. She stated that one of the hardest cases she has experienced was when a family crashed while driving at a high speed while not wearing their seatbelts. The crash resulted in the deaths of some of the children and one of the adults, and Kuhls recounts that “If they were able to just back up time, they would have done things just very, very differently.”

Kuhls and her team’s research shows that thirty-two percent of Nevada’s traffic fatalities are associated with running red lights, while fifty-two percent of the state’s traffic citations were for speeding. Of that, thirty-four percent of the drivers were traveling at 80 miles per hour or higher, which is well above the state’s maximum speed limit. Kuhls emphasizes that these statistics are easily controllable and lie in the hands of the actions of all of us. We all have busy schedules and places to be, but traveling at dangerous speeds only puts yourselves and everyone around you at risk.

The research team also noted an increase in speeding as well as citations in schools zones, which worries Kuhls and researchers because it poses a danger to the many children and pedestrians common in these areas. Kuhls adds that it is impossible for law enforcement to be present at all times in these zones, so some responsibility must come from the drivers themselves. One possible solution to this is a new bill titled AB93 circulating in Nevada’s legislature.  AB93 would create enforcement cameras in school zones, but this legislation has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. In addition, Kuhls stated that red light cameras would be a good deterrent to some of the crashes occurring in congested areas; however, red light cameras have been banned since 1999 in Nevada due to them potentially infringing on civil liberties.

Kuhls further noted that pedestrian deaths are on the rise as well, with younger and older populations the most adversely impacted. This is in part because older groups have limited mobility and require a little more time to cross intersections. For younger groups, while they are more mobile, they are more likely to be distracted while crossing an intersection. In addition to being mindful in pedestrian-heavy areas, the researchers have also suggested outreach throughout Nevada such as in schools and retirement homes, so that these groups are aware of their increased danger as pedestrians.

Kuhls reminds everyone that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep each other safe on the roads, and “if we don’t act responsibly, we could injure or kill someone very, very, very easily.” [2]

Two Pedestrian Fatalities in Northern Nevada

On March 28, a pedestrian was hit in the parking lot of Summit Mall Reno, an outdoor shopping center, just before 9 PM. Officers initially responded to a report that someone had fallen in the parking lot, but they later learned that the victim was hit by a car and suffered severe injuries. The victim was rushed to the hospital but later died from the injuries suffered in the collision [3].

This occurred in the wake of another pedestrian fatality in Reno, as well as a multiple vehicle pedestrian accident. On March 1st, a pedestrian was killed near South Virginia Street around 7:45 PM. Nevada State Police stated that the pedestrian was standing in the road and was struck by a vehicle. After the first collision, nearly a half dozen more vehicles struck the pedestrian, and the person was declared dead at the scene [4]

Pedestrian safety is a responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians. When walking in intersections, be weary of posted crosswalks, pedestrian bridges, etc and follow these directions accordingly. If you are walking in a parking lot or busy area, be mindful and reduce distractions. If you are driving in a pedestrian-heavy area, reduce speeds and be mindful of those walking.






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