Geoff Dornan

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July 10, 2012
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Nevada traffic fatalities up so far this year

Traffic deaths increased in Nevada in the first half of 2012, but the problem was centered almost exclusively in Clark County.

That county, which comprises Las Vegas, had a 61 percent increase in fatalities from 2011 to 2012 - from 59 to 95.

That was offset by decreases in most other counties, particularly in Churchill and Lyon counties, which suffered major accidents in 2011. In Churchill, the number of fatalities decreased from nine to just one. In Lyon, the 12 fatalities in the first six months of 2011 deaths dropped to one so far this year.

Carson City reported no traffic fatalities in the first half of 2012 - the same as the previous year.

Douglas County saw its number of fatals drop from four to one through the end of June.

Churchill reported no fatalities compared with one a year ago. Washoe reported 11 instead of 13.

Those reductions offset most of the increase in Clark County but, for the first six months the state overall was still up nine deaths to 129.

Surprisingly, the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths was down from 29 to 17 in Clark. Similarly, statewide alcohol traffic deaths fell from 41 to 23 for that same six months.

A big share of the increase in Clark was the number of pedestrian deaths - up more than double, from 10 to 23. Statewide, the number of pedestrian deaths also more than doubled, from 14 to 30, through the end of June.

Officials warned pedestrians to pay attention and take responsibility for their own safety. Drivers, they said, should always look for and yield to pedestrians.

The numbers are better than they were when the state hit an all-time high of 432 deaths in 2006. The Departments of Public Safety and Transportation credit at least part of the decrease to the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, implemented after 2006. The state finished 2011 with 246.

Transportation Director Susan Martinovich said the goal is zero fatalities.

"One death of Nevada roads is too many," she said.

The numbers can't quantify the toll on individuals and families for each traffic fatality, said Traci Pearl, head of the Office of Traffic Safety.

"Traffic safety ultimately relies on each and every person on the road," she said.

Trooper Jeremie Elliott of the Highway Patrol said an important key is wearing a seat belt on every trip.

Elliott cautioned to never drive impaired, and to pay attention at all times.

Under the new law that took effect in January, using a cellphone without a hands-free setup is a violation - and texting while driving is always a violation.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jul 10, 2012 03:00AM Published Jul 10, 2012 02:59AM Copyright 2012 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.