Education, enforcement keys to Incline traffic safety
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Incline Village is home to several residential streets, with the highest speed limit in the town reaching 35 mph on Nevada State Route 28.
As Lake Tahoe communities continue to see more people from all over the world come to the area, there has also been an increase in traffic incidents and accidents, leading to multiple people struck by moving vehicles, an increase in DUI’s and an increase in speeding.
Members of the community are hoping with the help of official agencies, including the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Nevada Highway Patrol, there will be some kind of solution.
WCSO Incline Substation Cpt. Corey Solferino said that the increase in incidents comes from the increase in population.
“A lot of people are living here full time now,” said Solferino. “So it’s not so much just a resort destination anymore, it’s full time. So we see a lot more people in the area than we have in the past where we were just seeing them during the winter or summer months.”
According to a WCSO study, in 1998, the population of all unincorporated Washoe communities was 66,670 with 72 deputies assigned to operations. In 2021, the population increased by 132% to 152,652. The Incline Village substation was reopened this summer and fall due to a Dave and Cheryl Duffield Foundation grant, but there are still only 98 deputies assigned to work in those areas, Solferino said. That represents a 36% increase.
Solferino said the raise in population has only led to more traffic incidents, and the only way to solve the issue is to increase education in the community on safe driving and continue to implement initiatives in town to promote safe driving.
Initiatives include putting up radar trailers in areas where the speed limit may change quickly, like from SR-431 to Country Club Boulevard which recently saw a speed limit decrease from 35 to 25 mph.
“We put a radar trailer out there to reinforce that if people are visualizing and seeing this, then hopefully they’ll bring their speeds down.”
There are also educational campaigns that have motor units and traffic units issuing citations. The Second Chance campaign with the Nevada Donor Network lets deputies who perform the traffic stop make the decision to give a driver who is a registered organ donor stopped for a minor traffic violation a warning ticket as opposed to a fine.
Solferino said another huge problem in the area currently is distracted driving. In an area he describes as a “recreation paradise,” there is a large amount of pedestrians out on the sidewalks, and with fresh snow on the ground, it can complicate things even further.
“It limits people’s ability to walk on sidewalks, so that kind of focus them out into the streets,” said Solferino. “So then we have the education piece again.”
This means that both drivers and pedestrians must work together to decrease the amount of traffic incidents. Solferino said pedestrians can help by staying off their phones when in areas congested with cars, wear highly identifiable clothing with vibrant colors that will reflect, and signaling when they can to drivers.
While the WCSO handles many of the residential roads in town, the jurisdiction of SR 28 and 431 falls to the Nevada Highway Patrol. NHP Trooper Charles Caster said speeding is an issue they are combatting as well, and the two agencies work together to mitigate the issue.
“There’s the enforcement piece, but I think there’s also an education piece,” said Caster. “Just letting people know how dangerous it is to drive in these manners.”
Caster said that anyone looking for current information about traffic incidents or information on driving safely can go to nvroads.com or call 511. Additionally, both NHP and WCSO update their socials media pages often with up-to-date news.
The topic of traffic safety has become dominant in the area due to a number of incidents in the last year, including two pedestrians struck by moving vehicles and a teenager on a bike was involved in a hit and run in July of 2021.
Helen Neff, an Incline Village resident who was struck by a vehicle in town in March of 2021, is worried for other pedestrians who may face the same fate as her. Neff was legally crossing at a traffic light at the intersection of SR-28 and Southwood Boulevard when she was struck by a vehicle making a left hand turn without yielding to her.
“How do I prevent me or my dog getting hit by a car? I was crossing, and I did everything right,” said Neff.
Her fears were confirmed when Yolanda Miranda Garcia was struck by Larry James Miller around 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 27 on SR-28 in front of the Raley’s shopping center. Miller was making a right hand turn and struck Garcia who was in the cross walk going a slow speed after facing a glare from the sun.
Garcia was treated for injuries at a nearby hospital and Miller was cited by NHP.
Neff believes that there are many solutions outside of pedestrians and drivers, including the installation of four-way stop lights on the main roads. This way all four directions of traffic must stop so that pedestrians can cross the street.
“Pedestrians have to be aware of cars,” said Neff, “but cars do more damage and they need to be aware of pedestrians.”
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the population in unincorporated ares of Washoe County, and not just in Incline Village.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.