For the past month, the Sheriff’s Office has been heavily engaged with the Nevada Highway Patrol’s Northern Command, Major Brian Sanchez, regarding the collision rates on Highway 50. From the very onset, we have seen leadership of a variety of agencies jumping on board to create a short and long term plan that will provide for a safer highway for everyone to travel. On Tuesday, I met with the Northern Nevada Traffic Incident Management Coalition, the Department of Public Safety, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Department of Transportation and the Office of Traffic Safety. Recognizing the significance of our challenge, a plan has been drafted that includes the length of Highway 50, from Carson Street to Fallon, and extending North to Fernley.
The Highway 50 safety plan has a single objective in mind, to change the character of the drivers on a highway engineered for safety. In order to achieve this, we are implementing a plan that includes widespread media and public education, enhanced aggressive enforcement activities, and both short and long term safety engineering of the highway. Clearly, the re-engineering of the highway will require the most amount of time and dollars. However, a safety audit of the highway by NDOT has already been set to begin in August. We look forward to the quick results.
On our side of the county line, public education and enforcement is essential. I have asked the city to place announcement boards up along the path, and am directing increased strict zero tolerance enforcement details on the roadway. In carrying out the operational activities, our efforts must have long term sustainability; remember, if we are embarking on a fundamental driver character change, it cannot be achieved overnight.
The causes of the accidents we have witnessed have been as varied as the number of injured. Highlighted today were DUI alcohol and drug, distracted drivers, and in some cases medical issues. Similarly, as we have seen in our own pedestrian fatalities, there are many drivers on this highway that just simply have no valid reason to be driving; suspended driver’s licenses and registrations. Every infraction must be addressed.
As we have already begun the early thrust on our side of the county line, I’ve asked staff to create innovative solutions to traffic enforcement challenges. We all know that driver behaviors are often altered when a Sheriff or NHP vehicle is in the area. Captain Wall has suggested to combat this challenge, the use of unmarked vehicles is appropriate. For everyone, we must make this challenge a long term treatment. The friends, family, and neighbors that have been lost is just plainly unacceptable. While I am fully aware of many other challenges we face, a priority that this administration is adopting is “Zero Fatalities/Zero Excuses.”