Traffic data from a variety of traffic safety agencies indicates an increase in traffic fatalities in Clark County compared to last year. The studies look at pedestrian deaths, the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s safety report for August and statewide seatbelt use. Together, these statistics indicate that Nevada road users are experiencing higher fatality rates.
Between January 1 and September 8 of this year, 186 people have died in traffic accidents statewide, up from 171 during the same time period last year. As of mid-September, 195 people have lost their lives in Nevada traffic accidents. A number of factors may have contributed to the rise in fatality rates, including an increase in the number of pedestrian deaths and a modest decrease in seatbelt use.
Clark County Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise
Traffic deaths in Clark County between January and September of 2012 increased 54 percent from the same period last year. More disturbingly, pedestrian traffic fatalities during that time increased an alarming 84 percent.
Law enforcement officials believe that driver behavior may be partly to blame for many pedestrian deaths. At one intersection in Las Vegas, motorists often blast through crosswalks while pedestrians are attempting to cross and some drivers even beep at pedestrians in crosswalks to get them to move out of the way.
To combat drivers behaving badly at crosswalks, law enforcement set up a sting at the intersection. In two hours, police ticketed 23 people for failing to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Many drivers had to slam on their brakes to stop for pedestrians once they spotted law enforcement officials. Hopefully, this type of police presence will increase driver awareness of crosswalks and change behavior so pedestrians are safer.
Nevada Seatbelt Use Could Be on the Decline
Another factor that may contribute to the rise in traffic fatalities is the statewide decrease in seatbelt use between 2011 and 2012. While the state’s seatbelt use rate remains high-90.5 percent-it is down from over 94 percent usage in 2011. The national rate is 84 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2011, there were 62 deaths in Nevada attributed to failing to wear a seatbelt.
However, some experts believe that the decrease is not caused by a decline in seatbelt use; rather, from a change in how the data is collected. In 2012, researchers observed drivers at one location for about 40 minutes before moving to another location. Last year, researchers stayed longer at each location. Some believe this difference could have contributed to the lower seatbelt use rate.
Southern Nevada’s August Traffic Fatalities Up
Clark County is included in Nevada’s Department of Public Safety’s monthly southern SafeSTAT reports. Comparing August 2012, the latest data available, to August 2011, there was a 21.3 percent increase in total crashes and an alarming 300 percent increase in traffic fatalities.
In the 1,185 crashes in August this year, four people lost their lives and 304 were injured. All four people who died were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crashes. Commercial vehicles were involved in only 3.9 percent of total crashes, and drunk drivers were involved in 3.5 percent of total crashes.
Until law enforcement takes extra steps to educate drivers and penalize those who violate the law, Clark County residents will continue to be injured or lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one are injured in a traffic accident, contact a personal injury attorney as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and expenses.