CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - The Nevada Departments of Transportation and Public Safety are reminding Nevadans to share the road after Nevada pedestrian traffic deaths rose in 2017 amid a decline in overall statewide traffic deaths.
Preliminary data show there were 303 traffic fatalities on Nevada roads in 2017, down from approximately 330 deaths the previous year. The decline in fatalities marks the first time since 2013 that traffic fatalities were fewer than the previous year in Nevada. Total year-end traffic deaths could be adjusted based on ongoing traffic crash investigations.
While overall traffic fatalities declined, the number of pedestrian deaths jumped from 80 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 to 99 in 2017. Bicyclist deaths also rose from six in 2016 to nine in 2017. The largest spike in pedestrian deaths occurred in Clark County, where 78 pedestrians lost their lives in 2017, 21 more than in 2016.
“Every death on Nevada roads is a tragedy, and a loved one who will not be coming home,” Nevada Department of Transportation Director Rudy Malfabon says. “Ultimately, our goal is zero fatalities on Nevada roads. Transportation and safety agencies across Nevada will continue working every day to save lives on Nevada roads, but we also remind every driver, every pedestrian, every bicyclist and motorcyclist to always share the road.”
NDOT says it dedicates about $10 million a year to pedestrian safety projects on state roads. In 2017, crossing signals and other pedestrian safety enhancements were installed on Kietzke Lane and North Virginia Street in Reno.
In addition, nearly 30 sidewalk decals were installed in the Reno area, featuring imagery such as a shark-infested ocean with the message “Crossing distracted is just as deadly.” The images are meant to remind pedestrians that crossing road without paying attention can be tatal. The decals join similar sidewalk safety reminders installed in Las Vegas in 2016.
The efforts are in addition to what NDOT says are improvements to enhance pedestrian safety in cities and counties across the state. Traffic safety partners across the state use focused strategies in six emphasis areas: pedestrian, intersection, seatbelt and motorcycle safety, and reducing impaired driving and limiting lane departure crashes by focusing on distracted driving.
“We focus on the driving behaviors and issues that lead to the most deaths and injuries on Nevada roads,” says Chief Traffic Safety Engineer Ken Mammen. “Our goal is cutting the yearly traffic fatality average in half by 2030, with the 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.”
Through the Nevada Department of Public Safety Joining Forces program’s heightened enforcement campaigns, Nevada law enforcement officers in 2017 issued about 73,000 citations to help reduce impaired, unbuckled, distracted or otherwise unsafe driving.
“Every day, someone you love walks, rides, drives or takes public transportation to school, work, a doctor’s appointment, or to run errands,” Nevada Office of Traffic Safety Administrator Amy Davey said. “If zero fatalities is the only acceptable number for your family and circle of friends, then it is the only acceptable number for all of us.”
“We work every day to help everyone be safe on the road,” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon said. “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.”