Over the last year, Nevada police have handed out more than 5,100 speeding citations to drivers traveling at least 100 mph, which is at least the second year in a row that such fines have increased.
However, one law enforcement official claims that the figures would be much higher if Nevada Highway Patrol staffing wasn’t at “critically low levels.”
“I would say there are definitely hundreds, if not thousands, of more citations of this type (that) would be given out if we are fully staffed,” said trooper Matthew Kaplan, president of the Nevada Police Union. “The ability to be out there enforcing is severely handicapped right now.”
According to new data from the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, Clark County, which is the state’s most populous county, received nearly 63% of the citations in 2021. 450 tickets were distributed in Elko County, which is the second-largest. The sixth-most populated rural northern county, which borders Idaho and Utah, has a population of about
3,517 tickets were written in 2019 throughout the state. In 2020, the number of citations per year increased to 4,415 and then 5,137 in 2021, or about 14 drivers arrested every day on average. Citation statistics for previous years were not available immediately.
Erin Breen, director of UNLV’s Road Equity Alliance Project, called last year’s statistics “mind-boggling.”
“Even the 2019 numbers are shocking,” she said. “It comes down to selfish drivers.”
No road in Nevada allows drivers to travel 100 mph. The highest posted speed in the state is 80 mph along segments of Interstate 80, which runs east to west across the northern half of the state.
In rural areas of Clark County, the speed limit is set at 75 mph, while it’s 65 mph within the Las Vegas Valley, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation. Yet 3,360 speeding tickets were issued in the county in 2021.
A North Las Vegas motorist was driving a Dodge Challenger at more than 100 mph when he ran a red light and caused a six-vehicle pileup that killed nine people, including himself, on Saturday, according to police. On Commerce Street, where the stated speed limit is 35 miles per hour, Gary Dean Robinson was traveling.
Both the county and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.
“This tragedy is without a doubt an extreme case, but speeding in any amount unquestionably raises the danger of injuring oneself or others,” NTSB member Tom Chapman added. Monday at North Las Vegas City Hall
The distance covered by a vehicle traveling 100 mph is nearly 147 feet each second, equivalent to the length of an NFL football field in less than three seconds. Wrecks may have serious effects.
“Those are the ones that are the worst that we see as troopers,” Kaplan said.
According to the state’s Department of Public Safety, as of January, 85 of 471 sworn law-enforcement positions in the Highway Patrol were unfilled.
In the field, only about 50 percent of jobs are available, according to Ed Kaplan. It can take up to a year for a trooper to get enough training to patrol on their own after they’ve been hired.
Now, it’s typical for six troopers to cover the 175 miles of Las Vegas valley roads under highway patrol jurisdiction every shift, according to Kaplan.
“There was a time that the public would never drive past the state trooper on the highway, and now there’s just no fear of consequences,” he said. “We have drivers passing us all the time, and committing violations in front of us in a way that they weren’t afraid to before.”
A previous version of the story had an incorrect number for Highway Patrol vacancies.