Five-hundred people injured. Twenty-six fatalities. More than 330 injury accidents.
Those are the numbers for the stretch of U.S. Highway 50 in Lyon County and into downtown Carson City since January 2008. Confronted with that raw data, it’s clear something needs to change.
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong agrees; he sent out a Sheriff’s Memorandum to various media and other outlets Tuesday detailing a “Zero Fatalities/Zero Excuses” campaign involving area law enforcement offices. Up next is the Nevada Department of Transportation’s safety audit of the stretch of highway, set to begin in August.
Furlong has gone so far as to call it the most dangerous highway in the state, adding that he awaits statistical evidence to back him up.
Numerous factors contribute to the danger. The speed limit on U.S. Highway 50 drops significantly when one is driving west into Carson City. Some people drink alcohol in Virginia City or Mound House, then drive back to our region’s capital. Large sections of the highway in Lyon County basically function as an interstate highway, only with intersections and no median. That’s a recipe for collisions, and there are many on Highway 50. Only 11 days ago, three people were killed in a head-on collision on the highway east of Dayton.
Another factor is becoming increasingly problematic all over Nevada: distracted driving. Twenty years ago, we didn’t all drive around carrying miniature personal computers in our pockets — or worse, in our laps. Increasingly, Furlong said, drivers are looking down at their laps while playing with their cellphones so law enforcement won’t pull them over.
Only individual drivers can improve their behavior, but the Sheriff’s Office is using its power in an attempt to improve safety. It’s encouraging to see, as few things contribute to a community’s quality of life as much as its public safety.