Ask anyone who’s driven Highway 160 to Pahrump, U.S. 93 towards Alamo or U.S. 95 through Searchlight and they’re likely to agree that nighttime rural driving is drastically different from urban driving. The Nevada Highway Patrol agrees as well.
“When you’re in an urban environment, you have streetlights, you have businesses and things are much more illuminated,” explains NHP Trooper Travis Smaka. “When you get out rural — when you’re out in the desert — there is no artificial lighting. You’re pretty much going by the stars.”
It’s because of that lack of lighting that drivers on Nevada’s rural roads and highways need to be extra cautious. In fact, just a few days ago a pedestrian lost his life after being struck by a pickup on southbound U.S. 95 a mere seven miles south of the Interstate 11/Route 95 interchange.
While it’s rare for pedestrians to be out on highways so far outside of an urban area, it can happen. And that’s just one reason why NHP is stressing that drivers have a heightened attention on those dark and remote roads.
“You gotta expect the unexpected when out on these roads sometimes and be able to not panic when the unexpected happens,” Smaka says.
To that end, NHP recommends nighttime drivers are fully awake when on the roads and says there’s nothing wrong with driving slightly under the speed limit.
Smaka offers one final piece of advice: “Stay within your capabilities.”