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A spike in deaths has Nevada traffic safety officials looking for answers


Associated Press

Another Las Vegas car crash.

Clark County is trying to reverse a spike in roadway fatalities and the related financial toll.

UNLV just reported that over the last month, nearly 30 people died in accidents involving cars, motorcycles, bikes, and people just walking and crossing the street.

The problem has grown so worrisome that the county is creating a traffic safety office. It would better coordinate the work of government entities that already address traffic-related issues, from first responders to healthcare workers to transportation engineers, said Clark County Commissioner Michal Naft, who pushed for creation of the office.

"We need somebody within the county to focus on traffic safety because many people might not even realize that we have over a dozen departments internal to the county who have a significant role in keeping people safe on our roadway," Naft told State of Nevada.

He said improved communication would help to address a complex issue that has long bedeviled Nevada, which is on pace for its deadliest year on the roads in a decade.

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"There is no one silver bullet, or we would have solved this a long time ago," Naft said, "but you look at the problem holistically, what are we doing on the front end to make sure that roads are being designed in a way that keep people safe?"

Along with the human toll, traffic fatalities exact a high financial price, with estimates saying fatal accidents cost Clark County nearly $1.5 billion a year for emergency and other services.

"UMC is our county hospital and the coroner's office is paid for by the county," Naft said. "So we're paying the cost. So every one of these fatalities and serious accidents that we can remove from the record books is not only going to be the right thing to do because it's the humane thing, but it's also going to be the prudent financial move."


Michael Naft, Clark County commissioner, District A; Erin Breen, coordinator, UNLV Transportation Research Center’s Traffic Safety Coalition; Andrew Bennett, spokesman, Nevada Office of Traffic Safety 

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