Traffic Safety Forum examines ways to protect drivers, prevent deadly wrecks

Local News

Late spring, early summer is a time when more people are killed on the roads. AAA calls it the 100 deadliest days of summer. On Thursday, valley transportation authorities held a Traffic Safety Forum at UNLV to discuss ways to keep La Vegas valley drivers and roads safe.

It turns out in the valley, the amount of traffic-related fatalities is alarming, and the numbers continue to rise. It’s only June and more than 80 traffic-related crashes have happened on valley roads in 2019 Officials say there are more than 300 traffic fatalities a year.

“This problem is significant,” said Capt. Jason Letkiewicz, LVMPD Traffic Bureau.

The Clark County Safety Forum was attended by law enforcement, engineers, EMS staff, and educators. All were asking ‘what is being done’ and ‘what more can be done’ to improve road safety.

Metro’s new Traffic Captain Jason Letkiewicz has only been on the job for about a week, but at the traffic safety forum, he already laid out three main issues: Pedestrian error, yielding to the right of way, and speeding.

For traffic safety officials the data points aren’t just numbers: They represent countless families and friends that are losing loved ones from careless drivers.

One solution is using traffic officers to support patrol officers.

“Often, the area that you have people who are consistently committing crimes in; you have people who are violating the traffic laws as well and are involved in a lot of these collisions, so we are pairing up with the different area commands to identify their hot spots,” Letkiewicz said.

Another big topic at the forum Thursday was related to the traffic fatalities and the upward trend of pedestrians being hit and killed in wrecks. As for preventing, these types of accidents, both pedestrians and drivers need to pay better attention.

“I dearly miss my son,” said Steve Meriwether, the victim’s father.

Meriwether’s 18-year-old son Garrett was the victim of a recent DUI crash. Meriwether says he wants to see stricter penalties.

“I think it needs to be made tougher, and people need to be ‘uh oh, my life is over if I get arrested for DUI,’ as my son’s life is over,” Meriwether said.

County leaders are also looking at changing the way communities are designed, that includes building workplaces and stores closer to residential neighborhoods, along with more public transportation.

“Provide and make possible more transit in communities that are easily connected by transit,” said Nancy Amundsen, Director of Comprehensive Planning, Clark County. “Then you will get more cars off the street, and it could lead to a safer roadway system.”

Traffic experts also highlighted the success they’ve had with the ‘DUI Strike Team.’ The team has arrested a total of 700 arrests since October.

“It’s inspiring to see everybody come together,” said Michael Naft, Clark County Commissioner. “Often times we focus so much internally on whose jurisdictions is who, and whose side of the street belongs to who, or which side of the county, belongs to the city, belongs to the state. We are here under one roof because it doesn’t matter to the general problem for everybody.”

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