A Deadly Month on Nevada Roadways, Despite Promising First Quarter of 2023

On June 3, the official social media account for Nevada State Police posted an alarming infographic that illustrated a sharp increase of crash related deaths in Southern Nevada from 2022 to 2023. In May 2022, the southern region of the state saw 2 fatal crashes, with three deaths and 12 fatal crashes with 14 deaths in May 2023. Additionally, there were only twenty-four deaths and nineteen fatal crashes between January and May of 2022, which increased to thirty-eight deaths and thirty-four fatal crashes between January and May 2023 [1]. Shortly, a little over twelve hours after this infographic was posted, Highway Patrol responded to another fatal crash in Clark County, this one involving a father and son who were unrestrained in the vehicle and ejected.

This increase in fatalities in May was quite dramatic, considering Southern Nevada saw a decrease in fatal accidents in the first quarter of 2023. Trooper Ashlee Wellman, of the public information office with the Nevada State Police stated that this increase has “left Nevada law enforcement to figure out solutions on how to keep our community safe”. She stated that impaired driving and speed remain to be the top contributing factors to fatal crashes in the state and reminds people that their actions on the road have ripple effects on their community, as well as their friends and family. Wellman emphasizes that “We see the aftermath of your family showing up on scene being devastated and broken, and the community being devastated by one’s passing”, and the fact many would turn back time and choose to drive sober/wear their seatbelt/drive at the speed limit if they had the chance to do so and save their family the pain. [1]

The 100 Deadly Days of Summer

This increase in fatalities comes at a time deemed by traffic experts nationwide as the “100 deadly days of summer” which begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day weekend in September. While summer is the time to relax for many, it is not the time to relax behind the wheel, and the warmer temperatures often results in increased distractions behind the wheel. The term mostly applies to teen drivers who see the sharpest increase of accident involvement and fatalities during that time. The following are some important stats related to this time:

  • An average of two-hundred and sixty teens are killed in accidents each month of the summer (End of May- End of August) nationwide, a twenty-six percent increase when compared to other months of the year.
  • There are more than two-thousand fatal crashes involving teens in the US annually. Thirty-one percent of these crashes (more than six hundred) occur during this 100-day period.
  • Between 2011 and 2020, more than seven thousand people died in teen-related accidents in the summertime.
  • Nation-wide seven people a day are killed on the roads in the summer, in comparison to the five people a day average during other times of the year. [2]

What are the Contributing Factors to this Increase in Fatalities?

Teens are more inexperienced behind the wheel, making them more susceptible to dangerous behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving and drinking-and-driving. Their lack of experience also makes them more unlikely to know how to deal with unexpected driving conditions. Additionally, driving with other teen passengers increases crash risk and can result in distracted driving, as teen passengers are often the biggest distraction to teen drivers, along with cell phones and interaction with in-car information systems. [3]

Parent coaching and guidance is one of the best ways to prepare young drivers for the possible dangers on the road and talking to teens often can remind them of the dangers of impairment and distractions behind the wheel. Nevada requires that parents/guardians conduct fifty hours of supervised driving practice, and it is important to take this time to help your teen adapt safe driving practices, as well as prepare them on how to anticipate dangers on the road. It is also important to lead by example and teens are quick to pick up on their parents’ driving habits. Additionally, it is recommended to enroll new drivers in both online drivers’ education courses, as well as in-person driving courses so students can gain multiple perspectives and understandings of laws, driving practices, etc.

[1] https://news3lv.com/news/local/nevada-highway-patrol-issues-stark-warning-after-deadly-month-on-roadways

[2] https://media.acg.aaa.com/aaa-100-deadliest-days-for-teen-drivers-have-begun-1-2-3-4-5.htm

[3] https://wesavelives.org/100-deadliest-days-of-summer/

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