On Thursday, June 20th, people from across Clark County gathered at the Richard Tam Alumni Center on the campus of UNLV. They came together to learn more about potential solutions to the traffic safety problems we face in our community.
Attendees spent their morning poring over crash aftermath data presented by experts from Las Vegas Metro and Nevada Department of Public Safety. The results of the presentations left little doubt that we have critical problems with those traveling on foot, those who speed, and those who make bad decisions.
Dr. William Sousa from UNLV’s Criminal Justice Program took the unique approach of showing how we can analyze crash data much like we analyze crime data. He went on to show if we tweak the outlook, we can show that intersections can have some of the same dynamics as criminals. Much like a small number of criminals commit a high number of crimes, in our valley there are a handful of intersections that are responsible for far too many of the most critical crash outcomes.
Next came the first of two panel discussions. The first panel was “How did we get here?,” presented by the RTC of Southern Nevada, the Nevada Department of Transportation, and Clark County Traffic Management. Many great points were made, most importantly that roads have catered to vehicles since the end of WWII, and Clark County was built almost completely post-WWII. In the past few decades, much has been done to improve safety for all road users, but all agreed we could do more.
The title of the second panel discussion was “What more can be done?” This group included comments from the Director of the Mendenhall Center at UNLV, the Planning Director for Clark County, and the Director of UNLV’s Vulnerable Road Users Project. This panel also took a hard look at how to drive down critical injury and fatality numbers community-wide. The conversation covered how our roads are designed, who they are designed for, and how fast drivers are comfortable going.
In our community, less than five percent of all road users are made up of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. However, it is shocking to realize that that same group makes up more than 50 percent of our total fatalities! Our number is higher than most other urban cities in the U.S.
The highlight of the day was when city and county leaders addressed how these statistics affect the people they serve and how leaders plan to work together to address this unacceptable trend of fatalities and injuries. Then Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Mayor Debra March, County Commission Chair Marilyn Kirkpatrick, and Mayor John Lee all signed a pledge to reinforce their commitment to the effort.