LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Speeding, distracted driving, and running red lights are trends a new UNLV study has linked to thousands of car crashes in Nevada that have taken thousands of lives.

Dr. Deborah Kuhls, trauma critical care surgeon at UMC and assistant dean of research at the Kekorian School of Medicine, lead a research group in a deep dive of over a decade’s worth of Nevada crash and injury data and three years’ worth of citation information.

“This is a statewide issue,” Kuhls said inside the medical school Monday morning.

The three highlighted trends are what she calls “cause for concern,” specifically in the Las Vegas valley where over half of the crash data is from. Washoe county saw the second-highest amount of crashes.

Per the study, she says an estimated 115,741 people nationally were injured and 928 killed by vehicles running red lights. In Nevada, 32% of fatalities were associated with red-light running.

Pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicle passengers were killed over half the time, with the driver most commonly young men with prior crashes and alcohol-impaired convictions.

52% of all traffic citations involved speeding, with 34% of those drivers traveling over Nevada’s maximum speed limit of 80 mph.

“The majority of these behaviors are exhibited off the strip. They’re exhibited on our local streets, on our highways,” Kuhls said.

As for distracted driving, the study found five percent of all citations in Nevada were given to drivers using a handheld phone, illegally watching a TV receiver and otherwise driving inattentively.

“Some (surviving crash victims) will never be able to work again, will never be able to go home again. Or, if they do, they’ll have significant impairments,” Kuhls said.

The surgeon hopes lawmakers will use this data to further penalties and enforcement for this kind of driving. She believes traffic enforcement cameras could help keep offenders accountable, though a 1999 state law prohibits remote-controlled traffic cameras from being used to ticket drivers.

“I really look at this data as being a real opportunity for our state to intervene,” Kuhls said. “If we could do something to prevent these driving behaviors, we could really save many, many lives.”

Senate Bill 322 is making its way through the Nevada legislature, which, if passed, would increase penalties for reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm.

It would increase the maximum term of imprisonment to 10 years if going less than 50 miles per hour, and 20 years if going over 50 miles per hour.