Silver State’s traffic deaths rise in 2016 |

Silver State’s traffic deaths rise in 2016

Capitol Bureau

The Nevada Departments of Transportation and Public Safety are reminding motorists of the importance of driving safely after Nevada traffic deaths rose in 2016 over the previous year.

The increase also affected Churchill County, which showed a slight rise in fatalities.

Preliminary data shows that 327 traffic fatalities occurred on Nevada roads in 2016, one death more than the previous year. In contrast, the number of lives lost on Nevada roads increased by 30 between 2016 and 2015. Total year-end traffic deaths could be adjusted based on ongoing traffic crash investigations. Statewide, traffic fatalities reached an all-time high of 432 in 2006.

“Every death on Nevada roads is a tragedy, and a loved one who will not be coming home,” said Rudy Malfabon, director of the Nevada Department of Transportation. “When each person thinks about themselves and their family, the only acceptable traffic safety goal is zero fatalities. That’s why, for our state, there is no other acceptable goal than zero fatalities. Transportation and safety agencies across Nevada will continue working every day to save lives on Nevada roads.”

Churchill County had eight fatalities during 2016, an increase of three from 2015. The report includes crashes and fatalities for Interstate 80 in Churchill County.

The state report revealed three who died on city and county roads as occupants, three motorcyclists and two pedestrians. In 2015, though, five occupants died, but no deaths for pedestrians and motorcyclists occurred.

Lyon County’s statistics showed a dramatic drop in 2016 whereas only one person, an occupant, died. In 2015, the numbers tell a different story with seven who died as occupants. The county, though, did not have an fatalities for pedestrians or motorcyclists.

Unsafe driving behavior and an increasing number of miles traveled on Nevada roads may be two contributing factors to the traffic deaths. On average, the amount of miles traveled on Nevada roads increases nearly 4 percent every year.

When compared to the amount of miles traveled on Nevada roads, traffic deaths have dropped from an average of 2.05 deaths per every 100 million miles traveled in 2005 to 1.3 fatalities per 100 million miles in 2015.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 94 percent of traffic deaths are the result of driver behavior.

“We focus on the driving behaviors and issues that lead to the most deaths and injuries on Nevada roads,” NDOT Chief Traffic Safety Engineer Ken Mammen explained. “Our goal is cutting the yearly traffic fatality average in half by 2030, with an ultimate goal of zero fatalities on Nevada roads. And we do that through the enforcement, engineering, emergency medical response and public education strategies defined in our Nevada Strategic Highway Safety Plan.”

To help save lives, traffic safety partners across the state utilize enhanced enforcement, engineering, emergency medical and educational strategies in six emphasis areas: pedestrian, intersection, seatbelt and motorcycle safety, as well as reducing impaired driving and limiting lane departure crashes by focusing on distracted driving.

During Joining Forces heightened enforcement campaigns last fiscal year, Nevada law enforcement officers issued more than 76,000 citations to help reduce impaired, unbuckled, distracted or otherwise unsafe driving.

In 2016, NDOT completed pedestrian safety improvements on State Route 160 in the Las Vegas Valley and Sun Valley Boulevard in the Reno area, joining numerous other roadway safety enhancements made by NDOT and partner agencies statewide.

In addition, zero fatalities public education campaigns have reached over 97 percent of Nevadans, with traffic safety messages displayed more than 182 million times on Nevada TV, radio, billboards, social media and more.

“For more than 10 years, there was at least one traffic death over the Fourth of July holiday weekend,” Nevada Office of Traffic Safety Administrator Amy Davey added. “In 2016, the Nevada Department of Public Safety partnered with Uber and Mothers Against Drunk Driving in reminding Nevadans to never drive impaired, and there were no lives lost on Nevada roads during the Fourth of July weekend. It is one example of how Nevadans can truly come together to keep our roads safe.”

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart said troopers work hard to keep everyone safe.

“But, ultimately we know that reaching zero fatalities relies on each and every person on the road, and we want to remind everyone to always be safe on Nevada roads,” he said.

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