Carson DUI fatality numbers down in 2006 | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson DUI fatality numbers down in 2006

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer

Sunday’s fatal car crash involving an alleged at-fault drunken driver was the first this year in Carson state transit officials said.

But that doesn’t mean troubled times aren’t ahead.

“We are heading into one of the more dangerous stretches of holidays, starting with Labor Day – the last major holiday of the summer,” said John Johansen, program manager for the Carson-based Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. “We are heading into the stretch of holidays with Nevada Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and then Christmas/New Years – where we have to be, in essence, extra vigilant.”

If Carsonites can navigate the holidays without any alcohol-related fatalities, 2007 will be the lowest number of such deaths since 2003.

Johansen said this year is looking to be an improvement on 2006 when Carson City experienced six fatalities on the road – three of them alcohol related – the highest in the last decade.

Despite small fluctuations in actual numbers of fatalities, Johansen said the region and state has improved each year with the percentage of car or motorcycle crashes that were alcohol related.

“In the ’90s we were running well above the national range of 40 percent,” Johansen said. “In 2006, the national average was 41 percent, we came in at 43. The previous year we matched it at 40 percent.

“It’s been an extraordinarily slow and hard-fought effort.”

NHP public information officer Chuck Allen said while he does not “have a crystal ball” about what the remainder of 2007 holds, he feels confident that local and national campaigns will help keep impaired drivers off the road in the weeks and months ahead.

“It comes down to delivering the message and monitoring the streets,” he said. “Everyone, including people on the roads calling in a suspicious driver, can help out.”

That kind of help, one transit official said, has been slow-coming.

“Our numbers have come down, but they’ve very grudgingly coming down,” Johansen said. “But it’s worth it. We can’t relax. It’s something that has to be on-going.”

• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.