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LVMPD, NHP alarmed by spike in traffic deaths

2019 is off to an alarming start in the number of local traffic fatalities in Southern Nevada.

"Right now, we're at nine traffic fatalities in the month of January," said LVMPD Traffic Captain Nick Farese. "this time last year, we were at one fatality." He added, "if we stay on this path, we're going to exceed last year's numbers."

Captain Farese joined NHP Captain Charles Haycox, acting Major for NHP Southern Command, at NHP Headquarters today to deliver a joint message to News 3 about what they're doing to curb the problem. Captain Haycox says fatalities in NHP jurisdiction are actually down from last year, but LVMPD's alarming fatality rate is everyone's problem. "Last year, we had six fatalities through the month of January. Now, we're only experiencing two so far," said Captain Haycox. "However, it's not just a highway patrol issue. It's a complete city and statewide issue," he added.

Both agencies blame fatalities on speed, impairment, distracted driving, traffic violations, and not wearing seatbelts.

Also disturbing, LVMPD says pedestrian deaths are on the rise again.

"For 2019, out of our nine, five have been pedestrian-related fatalities, so it's starting to rear its head. Three of those have been the pedestrian's fault", said Captain Farese.

Also of concern, legalized marijuana in Nevada, although it's still too soon to know what kind of impact it's having on traffic deaths in 2019.

"The data right now is obviously in its infancy to determine if that is a significant impact," said Captain Haycox, "but people do need to realize that smoking marijuana or taking any type of edibles is the same thing as drinking to excess."

NHP and LVMPD have also launched a joint DUI strike team which has made nearly 300 arrests since its inception in October of 2018, and more than 60 so far this year.

LVMPD is also hoping to raise awareness on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

You can follow Metro Traffic @LVMPD_Traffic on Twitter, or LVMPD Traffic on Facebook, where you can find information on community events and traffic safety.