A city known for its hot desert climate and long summers, short mild winters, and warm transitional seasons in between, Las Vegas, Nevada has seen unprecedented snowfalls this year, and the community is not prepared for the dangerous traffic conditions the weather systems create.
Exactly how much snow is falling in the desert? In 2019, measurable snow has fallen twice in not only the month of February but twice in the same week.
The Nevada Department of Transportation employed snow plows to distribute deicing agents on the roads and highways before, during, and after the back-to-back snowfalls in Las Vegas and urged non-essential motorists to keep traffic to a minimum.
The poor road conditions led to a portion of I-15 being shut down during the first snowfall of the week, and a portion of I-60 being shut down during the second, all in the name of driver safety.
Prior to February 2019, the last year Las Vegas saw snow on multiple days in the same month was 1987. And before this latest round, the last measurable snowfall had not fell in the city since 2008 and was recorded at 3.6 inches.
The snowy phenomenon is a rarity at best, but Las Vegas has seen its share in the past, including:
- The largest accumulation of snowfall was in 1909 and was measured at 12 inches
- Snow was reported on as many as five separate days in February 1949
- 7.4 inches of snow was measured on January 31, 1985
Preparing for snow and ice can be difficult for transportation officials who simply do not have the experience or the resources to ensure all Las Vegas roads are safe for travel. Even when snow plows and crews are able to anticipate the weather pattern and proactively deliver solutions, snow and ice still cause dangerous transportation and travel conditions that put our community at risk.
How Do Snow and Ice Affect Transportation and Travel Conditions in Las Vegas?
Over a decade has passed since the City of Las Vegas has seen measurable snowfall, which means some motorists may have never been behind the wheel of a vehicle when roads are icy, snowy, and slick.
Even experienced drivers who live and work in cities where snowfall is common have trouble maintaining their position on the roads because the snow and ice create an unpredictable and unforgiving surface.
When there is snow or ice on the roads:
- Stopping quickly can cause the car to slide uncontrollably, causing collisions with other vehicles and stationary objects
- Driving too fast or following other vehicles too closely leaves little room to anticipate or react to the wintry conditions causing multi-car crashes and injuries
Las Vegas Winter Weather Travel Safety Precautions
Snow, sleet, and ice cause over 535,000 collisions each year throughout the United States. Las Vegas is not at the top of the list for these types of crashes because of the rare wintry weather conditions, but motorists are still very much at risk when the snowfalls.
To stay safe during and after snow and ice covers the roads, drivers should:
- Check their vehicles for safety, including properly working batteries, brakes, tires, and windshield wipers
- Maintain safe distances between their vehicle and surrounding motorists
- Slow down, and avoid speeding or reckless driving
- Allow additional time to travel to and from work, school, or other destinations
- Pay attention to their surroundings and avoid distractions
The uncontrollable conditions snow and ice cause will leave even less time for motorists to react, and the best advice available is to simply slow down.
To avoid slip and fall injuries after it snows, pedestrians should:
- Wear appropriate shoes or boots that provide good traction and stable footing
- Tread carefully on wet, slippery, or snow-covered areas to avoid injury
Since wintry conditions are an anomaly in Las Vegas, most homes and businesses are not prepared to safely remove snow or apply deicing agents that will allow pedestrians to travel safely on foot, or motorists to traverse private parking lots. It is important to walk, drive, and navigate the Las Vegas area with extreme caution after snow and ice have become part of the landscape.
Rain and Slippery Roads Can Also Create Dangerous Driving Conditions in Las Vegas
Snow is not the only weather-related culprit for accidents in Las Vegas. Rainfall can cause dangerous travel conditions, too. While not as rare as snow, rain is certainly uncommon, and when it does fall, the roads and walkways can become extremely slippery causing serious hazards that lead to severe injuries.
Las Vegas residents and visitors enjoy an average of 310 sunny days each year with no rain recorded in 86% of its daylight hours.
When it does rain:
- Most of the annual precipitation falls during the winter months, with February being the wettest month, averaging four days of measurable rainfall each year
- In total, 4.2 inches of rain is measured each year, dispersed over 26 to 27 rainy days
When wet weather occurs, the roads are slickened by the suddenly drenched debris the hot, sun-soaked days have left behind, including the melted and displaced rubber from vehicle tires and the oil and exhaust components that cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other motorized vehicles emit throughout the year.
The rain’s slippery side effects are just as dangerous for motorists as ice, effectively delivering the same uncontrollable surface for vehicles to travel. This is true for the sidewalks and walkways throughout the city, too.
Las Vegas Rain and Thunderstorm Travel Safety Precautions
Staying safe during the rare days that rain does fall in Las Vegas requires motorists to operate just as they would when it snows: Slowly.
Rain brings slippery roads that require care and attention, including:
- Proper tire tread and inflation
- Working windshield wipers that clear the driver’s view
- Avoiding distracted driving or reckless behavior, including speeding or following other vehicles too closely
Can the Extreme Las Vegas Heat Lead to Traffic Collisions?
July is the hottest month in Las Vegas, with the average daytime temperature reaching just over 104 °F.
Throughout the rest of the year, an average of 134 days reaches or exceeds 90 °F, of which:
- 74 days reach 100 °F
- seven days reach 110 °F
So how does this affect traffic safety? Extreme heat can damage car components quickly, causing unforgiving scenarios that can lead to collisions without notice. When car trouble leads to traffic collisions, drivers and other vehicle occupants can easily be injured by what could have been avoiding using vehicle maintenance measures.
Las Vegas Heat-Related Travel Safety Precautions
No matter how you travel the Las Vegas roads, by car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle, taking care of your vehicle year-around can mean the difference between causing a preventable collision and getting to your destination safely.
In the extreme heat, vehicle maintenance should include:
- Extremely hot weather can damage the rubber on tires, especially when they are improperly inflated. The heat will cause the tires to dry out, making them susceptible to a blowout without warning.
- Routinely check the tire pressure on all four tires to ensure they are riding on a more even surface area, which will lessen their wear and tear
- When possible, park in a shady area to avoid direct sunlight, which can further damage and even soften the rubber on tires in extreme heat
- Vehicle batteries are composed of both acid and water, and in extreme heat the water portion of the battery will evaporate quickly, exposing the lead plates and damaging the battery beyond repair.
- Park in the shade, when possible
- Inspect batteries regularly for damage
- Replace batteries with any sign of damage immediately
Change the Oil
- Hot temperatures mean even hotter engines, which can complicate how well the vehicle’s lubricating system is working.
- Schedule regular oil changes and fluid maintenance
Coolant, Coolant, Coolant
- Low coolant levels in high heat can destroy your engine. It is important to maintain proper coolant levels in the vehicle while also inspecting the radiator and the vehicle’s hoses regularly, to ensure the coolant is not leaking and causing the engine temperature to rise.
- Compromised cooling systems keep the vehicle from running properly, and can cause an engine to combust while traveling, deeming the car inoperable and possibly causing a serious collision.
- Understand that high temperatures can have a serious impact on your vehicle, even potentially fatal ones
- Make sure to take proper precautions in the summer months to keep yourself hydrated and your car safe from the heat by ensuring its coolant levels are always full and operating properly
Was My Collision Caused by Weather Conditions? or Was Another Driver Responsible?
When drivers negligently operate their vehicles on snow-covered or rain-filled roads, the chances of an accident occurring increase dramatically. While the weather may be a factor in the collision, if the driver who caused the crash was on their cellphone, speeding, following too closely, or driving under the influence, their negligence is the major factor of the crash.
At Bertoldo, Baker, Carter, Smith & Cullen, our Clark County attorneys can help you determine who was responsible for your collision and develop a legal strategy for financial recovery, so you are not left paying your medical bills, lost wages, or car repair or replacement costs on your own.
Snow, Rain, or Shine, Traffic Accidents in Las Vegas, Nevada Occur Year Around
Las Vegas, Nevada is home to nearly 642,000 residents who depend on their cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles to get to work and school each day. Outside of the Regional Transportation Commission, or RTC, the city’s public bus system, Las Vegas has little public transportation to ease our residents’ commutes.
Instead, our city’s reliance on personally owned motor vehicles leads to heavy traffic, congestion, and collisions each day.
Traffic Collision Causes in Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is arranged in some areas to include six-lane streets at square mile intervals that can be very confusing to visitors, and extremely frustrating to residents. The lengthy-timed lights often cause speeding to occur, instead of drivers waiting for the next round of green lights to appear, and pedestrian interference and driving under the influence can both play large roles in Las Vegas traffic collisions.
According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada is the:
- Third-worst state in the nation for traffic and speeding tickets
- 17th worst state in the country for DUI arrests
Accident-Prone Streets and Highways in Las Vegas, Nevada
Whether residents are traveling down the crowded Las Vegas Boulevard on their way to work, or a driver is heading north on southbound lanes of traffic on Paradise Road near McCarran International Airport, the NHTSA lists an average of 50,000 traffic crashes annually in Nevada, causing just under 23,000 injuries, and 295 deaths.
Construction, lane closures, and paving only aggravate the already-crowded roads and highways our residents travel each day. But when speeding, impaired driving, and negligent behavior — including texting while driving — leads to more dangers than other drivers can prepare for on the 215 Beltway or I-15, severe injuries can occur without notice.
Some of our city’s most dangerous convergences include traveling on Charleston Boulevard, especially before the northbound ramp to US-95, and the intersections of:
- Rainbow and Sahara
- Rainbow and Hacienda
- Nellis and Cedar
- Desert Inn and Fort Apache
If you were injured in a collision that was caused by a negligent driver, no matter where you were in the city when it happened, we can help.
Contact our car crash lawyers in Las Vegas, Nevada today at (702) 505-8115 today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you hold the negligent driver who caused your injuries responsible.