LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada State Police (NSP) said they are increasing patrol throughout the Thanksgiving weekend, despite short staffing problems it has grappled with for years.
On average, 45,000 vehicles travel between Las Vegas and Los Angeles daily. This holiday, NSP expects that number to increase by the thousands.
Specifically, the portion of I-15 that California drivers first hit when driving into the Las Vegas Valley will see up to 15 extra troopers patrolling it, NSP Public Information Officer Ashlee Wellman said.
This is made possible by a state grant that focuses on increasing the number of troopers on state roads during the holidays.
The stretch of highway from St. Rose Parkway to the Primm area was once known as one of the deadliest roads in the country. Wellman recalls previous Thanksgiving holidays where vehicle collisions stop traffic in either direction for miles and hours.
“When you’re on the IR-15, there’s not a lot of areas to divert traffic or turn around traffic. So one of the challenges that we face is traffic has to sit while we conduct the investigation or get the roadway back open, and that could be a long period of time,” Wellman said inside NSP Headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
Now, Nevada troopers will join forces with California Highway Patrol as the two agencies work to target speeding vehicles, and move over law violators, and distracted driving violations.
Wellman also said that an additional 15 California troopers will be stationed on the other side of the state line.
However, with the extra resources directed to the south, what does it mean for the rest of the valley? It’s mainly a question of importance as the department was operating with less than half of a 120-person staff as recently as October.
“We actually have troopers, including our motor units, that will be coming in on overtime,” Wellman said. “Our troopers that are patrolling our valley and the city will be out there, handling calls for service and educating the motor republic on traffic safety just as they normally would.”
She adds that these troopers volunteered to work overtime. A statement from Wayne Dice, Nevada State Police Union (NPU) representative, confirms this:
“I know NPU members are going to be working overtime to address the short staffing levels and keep the highways of NV safe. We here at NPU encourage the public to use a little more caution when driving during these heavy traffic days. NPU knows that during these critical staffing levels the roadways of NV are dangerous for the public and its members having to work this holiday season.”Wayne Dice, Nevada State Police Union representative
The extra patrolling will begin Wednesday morning and through the beginning of next week. This portion of I-15 is considered a “zero tolerance” zone, meaning even the most minor traffic infractions will be enforced.
“We want zero fatalities for this holiday weekend,” Wellman said.
Extra safety precautions include additional messaging on DMS electronic freeway signs and speeding patrol from the air. NSP plans to add even more “manpower” on southbound I-15 north of the state line on Sunday to focus on speeding, reckless driving, and drivers utilizing the shoulders to pass traffic.
Wellman recommends packing extra food, water, and medicine in case an accident stops traffic.
She additionally says anyone who sees an accident or medical emergency while driving can report it at *NHP or 911.