NDOT billboards to show traffic fatality numbers

CREATED May 21, 2013

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Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Starting Wednesday, the Nevada Department of Transportation's digital freeway message boards will flash the most current number of traffic fatalities since the start of this year. NDOT is hoping it'll be a sobering reminder for drivers that they can never be too cautious on Nevada's roads.
NDOT already uses the digital freeway message boards to flash information concerning driving times and amber alerts.
"That one person means something to somebody. That could be a person's wife, husband, cousin, relative, child [or] coworker," says NDOT spokesperson Damon Hodge.
The first message to be posted surrounding traffic fatality numbers will be on the digital freeway message board located at I-15 and Craig Road. From there, the 90 other digital freeway message boards throughout the valley will display the same.
Fatality numbers will only stay up on the boards for four days because officials want the most current numbers to be displayed.
Action News spoke with locals who have mixed reactions about the campaign.
"It's very hypocritical," says Kim Plas. "Anything else to distract drivers is ridiculous."
Gerald Turner says, "Numbers sometimes don't matter to people. It would have to be personal experiences that actually make people more aware of what's going on and to be more safe."
"I don't think you're just going to put up a billboard and people are going to say, 'Wow, I better drive better. I better not text anymore. I better not drive drunk.' I really don't think it's going to help," says Douglas Copsey.
"Really, it's a good idea," says Nebyou Gebrekidan. If [people] know what's happening, they'll immediately wake up."
NDOT tells Action News the state has seen a slight uptick in traffic fatalities this year. As of May 12th, there have been 104 deaths.
"Our goal is to help get everyone to zero fatalities," adds Hodge.
NDOT claims it doesn't believe the message boards prove to be any sort of distraction to drivers. The agency tells Action News it received nothing but praise from the public when the boards were initially installed to show traffic times and amber alerts.
Nevada is one of the first handful of states in the nation to show traffic death numbers on public highways.