LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Coming off the deadliest year on local and Nevada roads in 14 years, the Clark County Commission reports it has ratified the appointment of the County’s first director of a newly created Office of Traffic Safety.
Andrew Bennett, who was appointed by County Manager Yolanda King, will serve in the position starting Jan. 24, according to the county.
Bennett is currently working for the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, where he serves as the public information officer and program manager for the Zero Fatalities program.
“The Office will help ensure that all relevant departments and agencies are working together to reduce the record-shattering number of injuries and fatalities occurring on our roadways,” said Commissioner Michael Naft, a staunch advocate for the office’s creation. “I believe that by improving how our roads are engineered, rules are enforced, and community is educated we can save lives and taxpayer dollars.”
While statistics for 2021 are still being compiled, preliminary data shows more than 190 traffic fatalities in Clark County and more than 370 across Nevada, the most in 14 years. Between 2015 and 2020, Clark County saw 1,056 lives lost on its roadways. Pedestrian fatalities are trending in the wrong direction with 61 – up from 59 at this time last year and 43 in 2019.
Beyond the emotional toll, vehicle crashes carry a significant financial burden. According to the 2021 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, the annual economic cost due to motor vehicle crashes in Nevada is $1.98 billion with $1.44 billion of that being in Clark County. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control reported the total cost of Nevada’s 350 traffic crash fatalities at $498.2 million – or $1.4 million per fatal.
“I want to thank the members of the Clark County Commission for ratifying my appointment to become the first Director of the Clark County Office of Traffic Safety. Unfortunately, way too many families in Clark County have experienced what it is like to lose a loved one on our roadways. As lives continue to be on the line, a sense of urgency is required in our approach to enhance safety.” said Bennett.
The county says the office of Traffic Safety will:
• Conduct best practices research of traffic safety programs, communication strategies and behavioral/educational methodologies and provide analysis and recommendations for improvement.
• Support and manage grant projects relate to traffic safety communication, education, and other traffic safety issues. Seek out and encourage traffic safety grant projects and partnerships as appropriate.
• Develop an effective system to track progress and evaluate program components to measure success that can be effectively communicated.
• Ensure the County is receiving its full share of federal funding available for traffic safety programs.
• Work closely with the County Commission and staff to set priorities and carry out programs including management of traffic safety projects.
• Write and implement policy as necessary to fulfill the County’s mission and vision.