Thursday, Jan. 8, 2009 | 5:26 p.m.
Beyond the Sun
The Nevada Highway Patrol and the Nevada Department of Public Safety reported a statewide reduction in traffic fatalities and also promoted their youth outreach programs at a Wednesday meeting at the NHP's Southern Command Headquarters.
Trooper Kevin Honea of the NHP said the latest figures from the Department of Public Safety indicate a 14.2-percent statewide reduction in the number of traffic fatalities from 2007 to 2008.
There were 320 traffic fatalities in Nevada last year compared to 373 in 2007 and 431 in 2006.
In Clark County, there were 198 traffic fatalities in 2008 compared to 248 in 2007, a 20 percent reduction.
Honea said the Joining Forces program, which saw 24 law enforcement agencies across Nevada step up their enforcement efforts over the past two years, could be credited for much of the success.
The program's goal was to increase the number of DUI checkpoints, "Click It Or Ticket" seatbelt enforcement patrols and community events to promote safe driving and pedestrian safety.
"Without citizens and motorists getting those messages and, more importantly, understanding and accepting them, these incredible results would not have been attained," Honea said.
High gas prices throughout 2008 and the economic downturn reduced driving in Nevada, which also played a role in the lower number of fatal traffic accidents, Honea said.
"It was definitely a factor, but that was only one component," he said. "A lot of things had to go in the right direction to get the numbers that we did."
The NHP and the Nevada Department of Public Safety also promoted their youth outreach program known as PACE, or Prevent Automobile Collisions Every Day.
Now in its third year, the PACE program strives to educate teenagers about driver and pedestrian safety through an annual multimedia contest.
The contest is open to all students in the state as long as they possess a learner's permit and are under the age of 20.
Teams of four to five students from each school research a traffic safety topic of their choice and create a public service announcement. Topics can range from drunken driving to speeding and seatbelt safety.
"We've seen some very creative ideas ranging from movies to posters and cartoon strips," Honea said. "There is no limit to their creativity."
All entries are judged, and the top half -- approximately 80 students last year -- are awarded a weekend trip to Disneyland. A total of 12 teams from Clark County participated in 2008, along with students from Nye and Lincoln counties.
"Everyone involved in this project is very passionate about it because the results are wonderful," Honea said.
The deadline to register for this year's PACE multimedia contest is Feb. 6. For more information, call Valerie Evans of the Nevada Department of Public Safety at 432-5083.
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or [email protected].