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Morbid reminder: freeway signs tally roadway deaths

COURTESY: Nevada Department of Transportation
COURTESY: Nevada Department of Transportation
Slow down, the signs will remind you. Don't drive drunk. People have died on these roads.

Starting tomorrow morning at 4 a.m., the Department of Transportation will roll out morbid reminders to drive safe on Nevada roads. As part of the statewide "zero-fatalities by 2030" campaign, selected digital message signs, which typically display traffic information and occasional amber alerts, will tell motorists how many have died on Nevada roads to date. This year so far, the number is 104, up from 95 last year in the same time period of Jan. 1 to May 12.

The signs will read "(x-number of) NV roadway deaths this year," followed by safety messages such as "click it or ticket" and "don't drive impaired." The number of fatalities will be updated weekly, and the message will rotate among valley billboards.
Nevada joins a handful of other states, including Tennessee, Vermont and Illinois, who use similar programs, says NDOT rep Meg Ragonese. Although the signs aren't yet proven to reduce deaths, "it gets citizens thinking about it in a more direct way," she says.

There's been a spike in traffic fatalities in 2012 and this year so far, but roadway deaths this decade are down overall. In 2006, deaths totaled 432. In 2012, that total dropped to 258, though that number could increase slightly as more data arrives.

NDOT gives five tips to staying safe on the road: buckle up, never drive impaired, pay attention to pedestrians, stop on red and focus on the road.

And if we may suggest a sixth: Don't get distracted by the signs.