What Are Nevada’s Distracted Driving Laws?

“Distracted driving” is a term to describe any type of behavior that causes a driver to stop paying attention to the road. Numerous activities can become distractions such as texting and driving or drunk driving, and some states have enacted laws prohibiting specific distracting actions behind the wheel. It’s vital for all Nevada drivers to know the state’s distracted driving laws to avoid serious accidents as well as legal repercussions.

The Problem With Distracted Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects traffic collision data to help lawmakers develop new policies to curb the number of deaths and injuries on the road. According to the NHTSA, more than 3,400 people died from distracted driving in 2016 alone. NHTSA research indicates that at any given time during daylight hours, more than 480,000 drivers are using cell phones or engaging in other distracting behaviors behind the wheel across the country.

Nevada passed distracted driving laws in 2012 in response to the growing number of accidents, injuries, and deaths resulting from distracted driving. The most significant aspects of the Nevada distracted driving law is that the state has completely banned the use of handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle on any state road or highway. This ban applies to all drivers regardless of age or experience level. Even an expert driver with more than a million miles of road behind him or her may not use a cell phone or any other handheld device behind the wheel in Nevada.

Only a few exceptions to the handheld device ban in Nevada exist.

  • People may use cell phones in emergency situations to report medical events, safety issues, or criminal activity in progress.
  • People may use voice-activated navigational systems built into a vehicle.
  • People may use two-way radios with separate, hands-free microphones.
  • Police officers, firefighters, and emergency personnel discharging job duties may use handheld devices.
  • Utility workers responding to service calls or emergency using employer-provided equipment may use handheld devices.
  • Amateur radio operators assisting with communications during disaster situations or states of emergency may use handheld devices.

Nevada law also explicitly prohibits texting behind the wheel. Research indicates that texting is one of the most dangerous distracted driving behaviors because it encompasses all three possible types of distraction.

Types of Distracted Driving

Generally, three types of distractions can cause accidents while driving.

  • Visual distraction includes anything that diverts a driver’s gaze from the road can cause an accident.
  • Manual distraction includes any action that requires the use of the driver’s hands when he or she should have them on the steering wheel and vehicle controls.
  • Cognitive distraction applies to anything that preoccupies a driver’s mind when he or she should be focusing on driving.

Texting while driving is so dangerous because it inherently encompasses all three types of distraction into a single act. Even at moderate speeds, taking even just a few seconds to look at a cell phone while driving can equate to essentially driving blind, endangering the driver as well as everyone else around him or her.

It Is Always Safer to Wait

Texting and driving carries a first-time offense penalty of $200, a second-time offense penalty of $300, and $500 for a third offense and beyond. The state will also issue demerit points on the driver’s record for multiple violations, potentially leading to driver’s license suspension. Nevada drivers should adopt the habit of leaving cell phones set to silent while driving so they can focus on the road. If a driver must keep his or her phone on for business purposes, it is best to pull over and park to have a conversation or use an appropriate hands-free device. Ultimately, distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, and every driver has a responsibility to limit distractions while behind the wheel. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident at the hands of a distracted driver, contact a Las Vegas accident attorney today from Cogburn Law Offices for a free case consultation.