LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A deadly issue continues to plague Las Vegas Valley roads. The number of wrong-way drivers continues to increase.
According to the Nevada State Police, the numbers have gone up consistently over the past few years.
- 2020 — Nevada State Police recorded a total of 713
- 2021 — Nevada State Police recorded a total of 755
- 2022 — Nevada State Police recorded a total of 823
- 2023 — Currently reported 70
This year, troopers said they have already stopped or responded to crashes involving 70 wrong-way drivers. The most recent was a deadly crash on the 215 Beltway that killed two people and injured three others this past weekend.
NSP suspect 39-year-old Quinyana Lonyae Long was driving south in the northbound lanes around 2:30 am Sunday morning before crashing head-on into 48-year-old Jose C. Tabares.
Both drivers were pronounced dead on the scene, south of the South Town Center Drive intersection.
Tabares, who was a former 8 News Now sales employee, was reportedly driving home Sunday night with his wife, Jessica Tabares, who remained in the ICU Wednesday afternoon after multiple surgeries, the family told 8 News Now.
NSP Sergeant Jason Buratczuk said the wrong-way driving problem in the valley is progressing in the wrong direction.
“I’m calling it an epidemic at this point,” Buratczuk said on the 95 Durango NB off-ramp Wednesday afternoon. “You don’t know if you’re going to have to hit that car to disable it, or if they’re going to stop for you, or if you’re going to use spike strips. You just have no idea.”
The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is taking action to decrease the number of wrong-way drivers by adding new radar technology along U.S. 95 and I-15.
The technology flashes lights along “wrong way” signs and sends video of the driver to first responders when they’re detected.
These measures reportedly made 80% of wrong-way drivers turn around in northern Nevada areas where this technology is already in place, NDOT says. But, when the driver is intoxicated, how much of a difference do they make?
“It usually takes a high level of impairment for someone to get on the freeway the wrong way, so you’re dealing with something that’s completely different. You never know what you’re going to get on a wrong-way driver call,” Buratczuk said.
Another NSP spokesperson told 8 News Now they are still awaiting to toxicology report to determine if the wrong-way driver was under the influence.
They are still uncertain where she entered the 215 from.
A study by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found between 2010 and 2018, which was the most recent data, found there were 3,885 deaths from 2,921 wrong-way crashes in the U.S. with more than half of those killed being the wrong-way driver.
Alcohol impairment and older age, especially 70 and older, increased the odds of being a wrong-way driver.
A GoFundMe campaign to help support the families of Jose and Jessica Tabares is available here.