Understanding Nevada’s distracted driving laws

Nevada has some of the most strict distracted driving laws in the country, banning texting and handheld device use.

Spurred on by the threat of distracted drivers, a startup business in Las Vegas last year launched a smartphone application to prevent someone from engaging in the behavior. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the company Text Safe Teens created Drive Safe Mode, which will block someone from using a phone if the app senses that the vehicle is in motion.

The idea is wonderful, as it could help prevent car accidents. Unfortunately, many people in Nevada continue to engage in distracting behaviors behind the wheel, despite the laws that are in place.

Is texting while driving illegal?

Yes. According to the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, no one is permitted to text while driving. In October of 2011, a law went into effect that enabled law enforcement officers to ticket anyone who is seen texting and driving. The penalties include the following:

  • $50 for a first offense
  • $100 for a second offense
  • $250 for all subsequent offenses

If someone is in a work zone, the fine may be doubled.

Can I use a handheld device while driving?

No. Drivers are not permitted to talk on the phone or access the Internet through using a handheld device. However, they may use hands-free devices. Penalties for the use of a handheld device are the same as the penalties for texting while driving.

Are there exceptions?

Nevada does allow for some exceptions to the rule. For example, if a crime or medical emergency takes place, the use of a handheld device is permissible. Further certain professionals, such as firefighters, law enforcement officers, utility workers and emergency medical personnel may use a device when acting within the scope of their job.

Why are the laws so strict?

Distracted driving laws vary from state to state. Many states have yet to ban handheld devices entirely the way Nevada has. Nevada has taken this step in an effort to reduce the number of accidents that take place due to a distracted driver.

According to Distraction.gov, thousands of these accidents happen across the country every year. The site reports that 3,179 people lost their lives due to a crash involving a distracted driver, and an additional 431,000 suffered injuries.

Do distracted driving laws work?

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham evaluated state laws to determine their effect on traffic fatalities. According to the findings, primary bans regarding texting, such as the one in place in Nevada, led to a 3 percent decline in traffic deaths. States in which the bans are only enforced on a secondary basis did not see a significant change in traffic fatalities.

Knowing the laws is the first step in staying safe. People who have questions regarding distracted driving accidents should speak to a personal injury attorney in Nevada.