While many were excited to ring in the New Year and leave 2020 in the past, Las Vegas Police reported more than a dozen traffic accidents within the first hours of 2021. While this is expected during New Year’s celebrations, it also points to an underlying issue—The number of traffic accidents in Nevada have been increasing annually.
Ringing in the New Year
Between midnight and five-thirty in the morning on January 1st, there were at least 14 injury causing traffic accidents in the Las Vegas area. Nevada Highway patrol did not release the cause of all the accidents, but did note that three accidents were related to driving under the influence. 
These accidents seem to fit an ominous pattern that Nevadans have seen in the past. In 2020, the number of injury-causing accidents was up by twenty percent from 2019. In Las Vegas alone, accidents were up by five percent from 2019. In 2019, Nevadans saw an eighteen percent increase in injury-causing accidents from 2018. 
While these statistics can be concerning, taking simple precautions can help reduce the number of traffic incidents in 2021. Here are some ways to keep oneself and other’s safe while driving:
- Always Be Alert- Actively pay attention to the road and try minimizing distractions like your phone, loud music, loud passengers, etc.
- Use Turn Signals– We often neglect to do something simple like using turn signals. However, signals can help other drivers and can reduce collisions on the highway and during lane changes.
- Follow Traffic Signals- Be on the lookout for traffic signals, especially pedestrian signals, stop signs, etc. If you are driving in an unfamiliar area, ensure to slow down or familiarize yourself with the area beforehand using maps or a GPS.
- Be Aware of Yellow Lights- While it may be human reaction to speed up when we see a yellow light, remember its purpose is to make us slow down and prepare to stop. Rushing through the light before it turns red can cause collisions.
- Weather- Considering it is winter, be aware of the weather conditions and plan travel time accordingly. Northern Nevada often receives snowfall and icy conditions, so be prepared to carry chains, snow tires, or any other appropriate bad weather equipment.
- Respect Right of Way- When other drivers have the right of way, be sure to yield to them. Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone else will yield to you when they should. Always be alert and do what is appropriate in the situation.
- Patience- The statement “patience is a virtue” can definitely be applied to driving in heavy traffic. While time is certainly important when traveling, your safety is more important. After all, if you are involved in an accident, you will experience more delays and challenges than if you get to your definition safely. 
DUIs in Nevada
Nevada also ranks as the twelfth highest state for fatal DUI-related crashes. Additionally, in 2019, Nevada hit an all time high for DUI related accidents, with three hundred fatalities that year.  In Nevada, driving under the influence constitutes the operation of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% within two hours of driving. For those under the age of 21, the maximum BAC is .02%. First time offenders may receive between 2-180 days in prison, community service, a fine, or all of these. A second-time offender may receive an Interlock Ignition device (IID), more jail time, more fines, or all of these. After the third offense or more, the person can receive between one to six years in jail, a minimum fine of two-thousand dollars, and one to three years of using an IID. 
Driving under the influence can be avoided if you are willing to take some simple precautions and plan ahead. While it may be tempting to get behind the wheel, it is better to be safe than sorry. To begin, always have a designated person with you who can stay sober and take you home. If this is not possible, you can always arrange someone for you to contact to pick you up. Using a taxicab or ride-share app is also a good option.
Additionally, if you are on the road and notice someone driving erratically, taking wide turns, braking frequently, or stopping without cause, you may have spotted a drunk driver. If you are in this situation, stay as far away from the vehicle as possible. Getting too close to the vehicle may put you at risk of getting in a crash. If possible (and safe) get the license plate number and model/color of the car and contact law enforcement. They can then take the proper precautions to get the driver off the road and protect others from a dangerous situation.