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The volume of traffic fatalities on Nevada’s roads is a public safety threat that isn’t getting better. In the first month of 2019 alone, there were 22 traffic fatalities, which is the same number seen in January 2018. This is particularly alarming given the fact that 2018 was the deadliest year for Nevada traffic fatalities in a decade. This year, 17 of the 22 January fatalities occurred in Clark County. Six of these deaths were pedestrians, which marks a 50 percent increase from 2018.

Andrew Bennett, a spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Public Safety, says that most fatal accidents are caused by speed, impairment, or failure to yield the right-of-way: “Our goal is to always reduce and eliminate fatalities on our roadways. Each of these 22 fatalities was preventable, and came down to human behavior. Traffic safety is a matter of choices that unfortunately leads to the loss of life on our roadways.”

Various organizations in Nevada have been working to find a solution to this problem. For example, the Las Vegas Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol joined together to form the DUI Strike Team in an attempt to decrease the number of impaired drivers on the road. Between October 2018 to January 2019, 300 arrests were made through that initiative.

Beyond law enforcement, the Regional Transportation Committee (RTC) is trying to discover ways to make streets safer. One identified safety issue is the layout of Nevada streets: when they were first constructed, the main priority was driver safety. This means that the safety of individuals using alternative forms of transportation, such as bicyclists and pedestrians, was being overlooked during construction. One of the RTC’s projects is utilizing lasers to map and monitor roadways and identify problem areas. Red light cameras, increased signage, and road markers are being considered as possible solutions.

On an individual level, drivers need to hold themselves personally accountable for not getting behind the wheel while impaired and abiding by all road safety laws. Even basic laws like driving the speed limit or wearing a seatbelt can make a lifesaving difference if a crash does occur. By driving smarter, everybody becomes safer.

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