Handheld cell use illegal when driving

Date Published: 2011-12-29

Contact: Meg Ragonese

Phone: (775) 888-7172

Title: NDOT, NHP Remind Motorists to Drive Safely in 2012

Story Text:

The Nevada Departments of Public Safety and Transportation, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and partners are asking drivers to make it zero fatalities on Nevada roads in 2012 by not driving impaired, buckling up, taking it slow in ice and snow and putting away the cellphone and other driving distractions.

Cellphone Ban – Fines Begin Jan. 1 

     Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, fines of up to $250, depending on the number of offenses, will be imposed for any driver using a handheld phone or similar device to talk, type or read.

     “Not only is it illegal, but we want drivers to know that they are four times more likely to crash when driving while on a cellphone,” Nevada Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Chuck Allen explained. “This is going to be a difficult habit to change for motorists because we are so conditioned to communicating with one another throughout the entire day. We are also seeing more and more motorists reading non-voice communication and texting while stopped at intersections waiting for the traffic signal to cycle.”

Impaired Driving  

     “We also know that many individuals will be celebrating during the holiday season at family gatherings and company parties,” Allen added. “When you know you will be consuming alcohol, please designate a safe and sober driver before the party starts and never drink and drive.  Buzzed driving is drunk driving and this is a preventable crime.”

Seat Belts 

     “We would also like to remind all motorists of the importance of wearing a seat belt every trip, every time, day or night,” explained Allen. “Although recent surveys tell us that 94 percent of all motorists are buckling up in the larger metropolitan areas of Las Vegas and Reno-Sparks, close to 50 percent of the fatality crashes that troopers around the state investigated this past year involved unrestrained vehicle occupants.  It only takes two seconds to apply the seat belt, and the life you save may be your own.”

Ice and Snow-Take it Slow 

     Last winter, as many as 800 vehicle crashes statewide were caused by unsafe driving behaviors in wet and snowy conditions, such as driving too fast for conditions, following too closely and overcorrecting.

     “We see too many crashes from drivers not slowing down in winter conditions,” Washoe County Sheriff Deputy Armando Avina said. “Slowing down and wearing seat belts is always important. And, in winter conditions specifically, drivers should avoid quick stops and turns and turn off cruise control to help avoid traction loss.”

     Before driving, motorists can get updated state road conditions, including winter road closures or controls, by dialing “511” or logging on to www.nvroads.com.


Zero Fatalities 

     “Nevada’s traffic safety goal is Zero Fatalities,” Nevada Department of Transportation Director Susan Martinovich explained. “Buckle up, don’t drive impaired, and stay safely in your lane by driving slowly in ice and snow and putting away cellphones and other distractions while driving – these are some important ways to help us all reach Zero Fatalities in 2012 and beyond.”




Limit Cell-related Distractions 

Before driving, secure your cellphone in a place such as the glove box where you will not be able or tempted to access it while driving.

Make any necessary phone calls before or after driving. If you must make a call while driving, pull over to a safe area such as a parking lot before making or receiving a call or texting. Note: do not park directly off to the side of the road to make a call. This is not safe due to the proximity to moving traffic. 

Seek out and install an application that blocks phone calls and texting while driving.  

Do not call someone who you know is driving at the time.


Don’t Drive Impaired / Buckle Up 

Whenever alcoholic beverages are involved with an activity, always pre-plan a safe and sober driver; not the person who has consumed the least amount of alcohol.

This is a preventable crime, yet every single day in Nevada, over 50 people on average are arrested for DUI.

A DUI arrest will result in loss of driving privileges for 90 days, vehicle being impounded, legal fees, court fees, two days in jail, and attendance at a Victim Impact Panel.

Keep in mind that one alcoholic beverage taken with prescription or over-the-counter medications can enhance one’s impairment level.

Always buckle up every trip, every single time, day or night, regardless of how short or familiar the route may be.

Be aware that children must be riding in an approved car seat until they are six years of age and weigh 60 pounds.


Winter Safe Driving Tips 

∙  Only travel in winter weather when necessary, leave enough time to safely reach your destination and plan your route to avoid snowy/icy areas and steep hills.

∙  Before leaving home, check weather and road conditions by dialing 511 within Nevada (or 1-877-NV-ROADS outside of Nevada). Or, log onto www.nvroads.com.

∙  Remove snow and ice from all vehicle windows, mirrors, lights, turn signals and license plates.

∙  Turn off cruise control.

∙  Avoid quick starts, stops and fast turns. Accelerate, brake and steer smoothly and gradually.

∙  Reduce speed. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions.

∙  Do not slam on brakes. Apply steady pressure on ABS-equipped vehicles and pump the brakes if necessary on non-ABS vehicles.

∙  Always comply with all posted chain requirements.

∙  If your vehicle has snow tires, install and use them between October 1 and April 30.

∙  Keep additional distance from other vehicles.

∙  Watch carefully for snow removal equipment.

∙  Do not pass without good distance and sight clearance.

∙  Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas- they may freeze first.

∙  Maintain a high fuel level.

∙  If vehicle begins to skid, steer in direction of slide and slowly remove foot from accelerator.

∙  Be aware of black ice.

∙  If parked or stuck in snow, leave window slightly cracked for ventilation and make sure vehicle exhaust system is clear of snow.