Newswise — The Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV was awarded a $437,000 grant from the Nevada Department of Public Safety to continue its long-standing study of traffic-related injuries and fatalities in Nevada.

A team of researchers from the school’s Department of Surgery created and maintains a longitudinal database spanning more than a decade of vehicle crash and statewide trauma center injury data from the Nevada Department of Transportation. The information provides a deeper understanding of risk-taking behaviors that contribute to vehicular-related deaths and injuries. 

“Nearly 400 people died in 2021 alone from vehicular crashes on Nevada’s roadways, which is the most in 15 years,” said project principle investigator Dr. Deborah Kuhls, a professor of surgery and trauma and critical care surgeon. “Most of the serious and deadly incidents on our roads are the consequence of risky behaviors, and we need to keep pressing to understand and ultimate change these behaviors to prevent this tragic trend from continuing.”  

Dr. Kuhls, co-investigator Laura Gryder, and other members of the school’s Traffic Safety Research Group regularly report on key traffic and injury-related data, including motor vehicle-pedestrian incidents, speeding and crash outcomes, traffic citations, and more.

According to researchers, deaths and injuries from vehicle-related crashes continue to rise in Nevada, creating one of the state’s most critical public health challenges. Among the project’s recent findings:

  • More than half (52%) of all statewide traffic citations from 2018-2020 were speed-related.
  • Injury outcomes continue to be far worse for vehicle occupants admitted to trauma centers following incidents on higher speed roads. Those involved in crashes on highways with 70+ MPH speed limits experience higher hospital charges and more severe injuries.
  • More than one in 10 (12%) of pedestrians hit by a vehicle died in the hospital, and one in five required long-term care. More than 70% of pedestrians injured in a vehicle crash live in lower-income areas.

The grant continues a program that has been funded since 2008. Funding supports continuing data collection and analysis, injury prevention research, and pedestrian safety education efforts. Through ongoing research and regular publications, the program highlights trends in traffic and crash data to encourage development of safety policies that will save lives and prevent injuries.