The number of Carson City traffic fatalities more than tripled in 2016 from two to seven.
That’s a significant increase compared to the one fatality increase reported statewide.
But just one of the Carson crashes was listed as alcohol related in 2016. Statewide, the number of alcohol-related fatalities was down from 87 to 77.
The breakdown of Carson victims includes two vehicle occupants, four pedestrians and one motorcyclist.
Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said they’re concerned with the number of vehicle vs. pedestrian crashes that have occurred on the community’s streets.
“The key issue is that most traffic fatalities in Carson City usually involve pedestrians,” Furlong said. “We have been trying to put tremendous effort to the pedestrian side (to reduce that).”
Furlong said his agency, along with the city, have taken precautions to decrease pedestrian deaths including remodeling roads and increasing crosswalks.
“Everyone has pitched in but we continue to see pedestrians get killed,” Furlong said.
Carson City doesn’t see as many fatal vehicle vs. vehicle crashes because there are fewer freeway-like roads than other areas across Nevada, Furlong said.
Statewide, Nevada Department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon said 327 died on Nevada roads this past year. While that is significantly lower than the peak of 432 deaths in 2006, Malfabon said the only acceptable goal is zero fatalities.
NDOT Office of Traffic Safety officials say a majority of fatal crashes are caused by intoxicated, speeding, distracted or reckless drivers, which are preventable and, therefore, shouldn’t be described as accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 94 percent of traffic deaths are caused by driver behavior.
In addition to unsafe driving behavior, NDOT officials say the number of miles traveled on Nevada roads increases nearly 4 percent every year. But when viewed as a number of deaths per 100 million miles traveled, drivers in Nevada are improving. That number has fallen from a bit more than 2 deaths per 100 million miles in 2005 to just 1.3 in 2015.
Like Carson City, Churchill County had a worse year, reporting a total of eight deaths compared to five in 2015. That total includes three occupants of vehicles, two pedestrians and three motorcyclists.
Douglas County, by comparison, had a better year in 2016, decreasing the total number of traffic fatalities from seven to four. That includes three persons in their vehicles and one motorcyclist.
The vast majority of traffic fatalities occur in Nevada’s two metropolitan areas. The Las Vegas area reported 216 fatalities in 2016, up from 210 the previous year. Washoe County reported 49 compared to 37 in 2015.
Chief Traffic Safety Engineer Ken Mammen said his office has set a goal of cutting Nevada traffic fatalities in half by 2030. He said they do that through enforcement, engineering, emergency medical response and public education.
“We focus on the driving behaviors and issues that lead to the most deaths and injuries on Nevada roads,“ he said.
There’s a heavy emphasis on enforcement. In the last fiscal year, more than 76,000 citations were issued to drivers in Nevada.