According to new data released by the Nevada Department of Public Safety, traffic deaths in June were down nearly 50 percent compared to June of last year. This year, there were 16 fatal crashes resulting in 16 deaths, which is almost half the number of reported deaths in June 2018. In the first six months of 2019, 125 people died in crashes on Nevada roadways, compared to 162 deaths in 2018.
This is undoubtedly promising news, especially since 2018’s 331 deaths marked the highest number of fatalities in a decade. If this trend continues, it could mean that Nevada road fatalities see a decrease this year. This is not guaranteed, however. August could prove to be particularly deadly, especially because the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is notoriously dangerous.
The Department of Public Safety also found that while the overall number of deaths has decreased, pedestrian deaths are up 19 percent statewide. While halfway through 2018, Nevada had seen 32 pedestrian deaths, 38 were killed in the first half of 2019.
In Clark County, which is home to over 75 percent of Nevada’s residents, some roads may be more dangerous than others. A University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Crime and Justice study found that injury-related crashes were heavily concentrated across just 20 of a total of 5,171 intersections in 2018. Additionally, one of 10 pedestrian fatalities occurred along the Boulder Highway.
With Clark County originating as a rural area, many roads were simply not designed to accommodate today’s heavy pedestrian foot traffic. On top of that, pedestrian crosswalks are purposefully timed in a way that only lets pedestrians cross halfway. Pedestrians are meant to stand in the middle of the intersection and wait before crossing the rest of the way.
Unfortunately, this is not what happens, according to Erin Breen, coordinator with the Traffic Safety Coalition: “human beings don’t do that. People push it and try to make it all the way across the street… It’s a spot where I feel particularly bad for drivers because — especially at night – you can’t see the pedestrian.” High speed limits may also be a contributing factor, not giving even non-speeding drivers enough time to stop upon seeing a pedestrian.
While it is positive to hear that the overall number of traffic deaths has decreased, it appears that more attention and safety efforts may be needed to protect pedestrian lives.