Nevada has been at the forefront of highway safety with initiatives to make the state’s highways safer for motorists, pedestrians, motorcycle operators and other users.
As a personal injury attorney in Las Vegas who represents injured victims of traffic accidents, Adam Kutner knows that since the state instituted its Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) in 2004, deaths from highway accidents dropped from 395 in 2004 to 254 in 2010.
The original SHSP identified five key critical areas for improvement: Impaired driving, intersections, seat belt usage, pedestrians and lane departures. The success of the original SHSP led to the state adopting an updated plan in 2010 with a goal of zero highway fatalities by 2015. The five key critical areas from the original SHSP were retained, but with new objectives in each area.
The objective of the revised SHSP is to reduce highway fatalities and serious injuries that are alcohol-related. The strategies employed to accomplish the objective include increasing high-visibility DUI programs, continuing and improving DUI programs aimed at young drivers and focusing efforts on reducing the number of repeat offenders. Reducing DUI violations could reduce alcohol- and drug-related accident injuries, according to personal injury attorney Adam Kutner.
High-visibility DUI programs include sobriety checkpoints in which law enforcement agencies throughout the state act as a deterrent and enforcement tool. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sobriety checkpoints throughout the United States were shown to reduce alcohol-related accidents by 20 percent.
Identification of DUI offenders with alcohol or substance abuse problems can reduce repeated violations and reduce alcohol-related accidents caused by motorists with a record of multiple DUI arrests and convictions. The revised SHSP encourages increased use of ignition interlock devices employed by judges to prevent a convicted DUI driver from being able to start a vehicle if the device detects alcohol consumption. Other programs designed to decrease repeat DUI offenses are mandatory alcohol and drug screenings prior to sentencing.
Targeting Young Drivers
Programs aimed at making drinking and driving less socially acceptable and state enforcement of minimum-drinking-age laws have reduced alcohol sales to underage people by 42 percent. The revised SHSP encourages increased DUI education programs as part of existing driver improvement and safety programs targeting young drivers. It also recommends increasing law-enforcement efforts at businesses selling alcohol to make it more difficult for young people to purchase alcohol.
Lane Departures and Intersections
Automated enforcement systems, such as red-light cameras, are used in other states and have reduced accidents by 40 percent. State law changes must occur before red-light cameras could be installed in Nevada.
Lane departure crashes occur when a vehicle leaves its designated lane and crosses into the path or lanes of other vehicles. Driver inattention and drowsiness are two common causes of lane departure crashes. Public education and improvements in highway barriers are two methods suggested in the revised SHSP to reduce these types of accidents and, according to attorney Adam Kutner, can help prevent serious injuries caused by highway accidents.
The revised SHSP includes several recommendations to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities caused by collisions with motor vehicles. These include engineering and design modifications at high-crash locations to improve pedestrian crosswalks. Also suggested are modifying traffic signal timing and modifying intersection design.