As Nevada Moves to Re-Open, Traffic Returns to Normal

With much of America vaccinated, life is slowly returning to a pre-Covid normalcy as evidenced by increased traffic on Nevada roadways. Forty percent of Clark County residents have received the vaccine as of earlier this week. The Nevada governor approved Clark County’s plan to reduce social distancing measures, especially in casinos and restaurants at the beginning of the month. Additionally, in accordance with the CDC, Governor Sisolak announced that masks no longer must be worn if vaccinated. [1] While Nevada’s governing authority has made these announcements, they also specified that each business will have the ultimate decision regarding masks and physical distancing.

In terms of Covid cases, on May 19, Nevada recorded 350 new cases and five deaths. However, the State Department noted that all major Covid metrics were trending lower, with test positivity falling below five percent [2].

Nevada Traffic Returns to Pre-Pandemic Levels

As Nevada returns to a pre-pandemic normal, roadway traffic has also increased. Traffic volumes, especially in the Las Vegas Valley, have slowly begun to increase. Traffic at Interstate 15 saw a daily average of 370,637 vehicles in April, 3 percent above April 2019 — the last year before the pandemic reduced traffic numbers [3]. Las Vegas’s Regional Transportation Commission or RTC, has observed that traffic on Interstate-15 at the Nevada State line has been up from 2019 during all five months of 2021, with a daily average of 38,838 vehicles in February (up 4 percent over 2019), 44,548 in March (up 2 percent) and 51,035 in April (up 10 percent).

While this increase in traffic is a positive indicator of a return to everyday life, it has also caused large backups at the Nevada State line, especially on Sundays as tourists head back to Southern California. The Las Vegas Traffic Commissioner stated that she expected to see traffic numbers on Las Vegas highways rise as we head into the summer months, with an expected increase in road trips as travel starved Americans venture away for overdue vacations. Driving in traffic jams can be difficult and frustrating. The following are good things to keep in mind when traveling in packed roads this summer:

  • Stay in one lane and avoid weaving between lanes. If it is necessary to change lanes, ensure that you use your turn signals and give the cars around you enough time to notice. Additionally, do not cut off drivers in the other lanes and check your blind-spots before passing.
  • Keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front, at least three seconds.
  • If traffic is barely moving, keep your foot over the brake rather than over the accelerator. It is best that you do not brake abruptly as this can cause the person behind you to hit rear end you.
  • Avoid eating, being on the phone, or being distracted. Slowed traffic often makes drivers feel like they can do other things, but they are in fact more likely to be in a fender bender in slower traffic.
  • Avoid driving aggressively or displaying road rage. Not only do these cause dangerous road conditions, but they further delay traffic and cause longer back-ups. [4]

As traffic increases so do motor vehicle accidents. Earlier this month there was a fatal accident involving two semi trucks on I-15 near Mesquite. The crash occurred at 5:35 p.m. when a semi-truck swerved into another semi-truck that was parked on the side of the highway. The truck then went into the southbound lane and hit another semi which then hit a passenger vehicle. The semi traveling southbound also overturned and its contents spilled across the highway. The driver of the first semi was pronounced dead at the scene while the passenger vehicles’ occupants and the other truck drivers had minor injuries and were taken to the hospital. [5]

Also, earlier this month, there were two accidents on Westbound I-80 near Reno, Nevada. Both car accidents occurred on the same night. The first accident was a fender bender, however the traffic failed to stop for the first accident, resulting in another. While the accident caused some injuries, there were no serious injuries or fatalities.  [6]







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