Traffic deaths up slightly in Nevada

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Statistics released by the Office of Traffic Safety this week show a slight increase in the number of road fatalities through July of this year.

The number of deaths increased from 180 to 186. Of those deaths, 40 were pedestrians and, while that’s 10 fewer than last year at this point, traffic safety officials are conducting a major effort to reduce that toll.

Andrew Bennett of the OTS said the most recent public service campaign focused on education.

“But it’s also enforcement and engineering,” he said. “I think the combination of engineering, education and enforcement is starting to click a bit.”

Bennett said the effort focuses not just on drivers but on the pedestrians themselves.

“We absolutely recognize pedestrian safety is a two-way street,” he said. “Pedestrians can’t expect everybody is going to stop for them. You can’t just step out in front of a car.”

He said as recently as 2009, there were just 29 pedestrian fatalities in Nevada.

“Now we’re up to 100,” he said. “For a third of our fatalities to be pedestrians is crazy.”

So in addition to education, they have stepped up enforcement not only against drivers but citing pedestrian violators as well.

Even though they’re battling to reduce pedestrian incidents, he said they appear to be making progress with motorcycle and bicycle safety. Fatalities in those groups, he said, are down in recent years.

Bennett said the push is being made now in part because last week and this week, the school year is starting across the state. K-12 schools opened Monday in Washoe County. They open Aug. 20 in Carson City.

The other element is engineering and Bennett said NDOT has a number of pedestrian crossing projects around the state — including on Stewart Street and on Highway 50 East in Carson City.

Those projects include electronic flashing crossing beacons and improved overhead LED lighting as well as a median pedestrian refuge in the middle of Stewart Street and sidewalk ramps to enhance accessibility.

In Carson City, the number of fatalities remained the same as 2017 through the end of July — just one. And in Carson City, there have thus far been no pedestrian fatalities, no motorcyclist or bicyclist deaths.

In Douglas County, which had a bad 2017 with seven deaths, just one person has died as a result of a crash this year. Like the capital, there have been no pedestrian, motorcyclist or bicyclist deaths in Douglas this year.

Churchill County has suffered two fatalities this year compared to three at this point in 2017. Like its neighbors, Churchill reports no pedestrian, motorcycle or bicycle fatalities so far.

Washoe County has seen an increase in fatalities this year, rising to 23 from 20 through July of last year. Four of those fatalities are pedestrians and four motorcyclists along with one bicyclist.

The vast majority of traffic deaths in Nevada are in populous Clark County where, this year, 128 of the 186 fatalities have occurred. That is up just one from the same period of 2017. Clark also accounts for 35 of the 40 pedestrian fatalities, 19 of the 29 motorcyclists and three of the four bicyclist fatalities reported to the Office of Traffic Safety.

Only Eureka, Mineral and Storey counties reported zero fatalities so far this year.


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