LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — As if COVID-19 wasn't enough to worry about, we're learning traffic deaths involving speeding were up significantly in 2020, across the country and in Nevada.
According to the Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, preliminary data from the first half of 2020 show that while there was a reduction in traffic, the fatality rate increased dramatically and it was reported that dangerous behaviors such as excessive speed, lack of seat belt use and impaired and distracted driving were on the rise.
While many Nevadans were staying home, the drivers who were out on the roads enjoyed more room than ever before and took that as a free pass to go faster.
"Looking at overall crash fatalities last year in the state of Nevada, especially in Clark County, our fatalities were higher than the year before and it was directly attributed to speed and impaired driving," said Erin Breen, director of the Vulnerable Road Users Project and member of UNLV's Transportation Research Center.
She attributes the rise in speeding during the pandemic to drivers having more room on the roads.
"What we know is that fewer people were on the streets. Streets were less crowded and people took that as an opportunity to go faster," said Breen.
But, Breen says the problem extends beyond just last year. Now, as roads start to become more crowded, she's worried more pedestrians and drivers will be in danger if our community doesn't collectively make a change.
"Being comfortable is part of the problem. But, they also have a perception, and especially in our city, that as long as they’re only going 10 miles an hour over the posted speed limit, that they won’t get a ticket. So, that’s not true and, when you tack 10 miles on a 45 mile an hour road to start with, that’s a deadly speed, especially for a vulnerable road user," said Breen.
Breen says the irony of speeding is that it makes only a slight difference in getting to your destination faster. She says the time you spend stopped at a red light makes a much bigger difference, which is why it's on all of us to budget more time to get where we need to go safely.