Distracted Driving Laws in Nevada: What You Need to Know
Distracted driving involves one of three types of distractions: manual, visual, or cognitive. A manual distraction takes your hands off the wheel: reaching over to change a station on the radio, checking your GPS, or, in a worst-case scenario, texting and driving. Visual distractions take your eyes off the road: looking down at a text message, for example. Finally, cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving.
Texting and driving involves all three types of distractions, often at a high level. However, texting and driving is not the only type of distraction punishable under Nevada law.
Phone Use Behind the Wheel in Nevada
An October 2011 resolution made texting and driving, as well as using a cell phone held in the hand, illegal in Nevada. Drivers cannot legally access the internet, including checking their emails or viewing social content, while behind the wheel of a car. Drivers cannot make phone calls from their devices while holding those devices and driving. Texting and driving, in particular, involves all three types of driver distraction: cognitive, manual, and visual. Texting takes the driver’s attention from the road, pulls his eyes off the road, and requires him to remove at least one hand–and often both hands–from the wheel in order to address the text message. Unfortunately, many drivers quickly grow distracted by the chiming of their phones, leading them to take their attention from the wheel.
While Nevada drivers cannot use their phones to make a call if they hold their phones in their hands, they can use a hands-free device to carry on a conversation in the car. Usually, drivers choose to use Bluetooth technology, either through a headset or connected to the car directly.
Nevada law does provide exceptions for first responders or for drivers using their phones in emergency scenarios. If you need to use your phone due to a genuine emergency–calling 911 to report a passenger with a serious health ailment or letting emergency services know about a serious accident, for example–you may do so while driving. Utility workers may use devices provided by their companies in the course of their business, even while in the car, and you can report criminal activity while driving.
You cannot, however, use your phone for casual purposes at any time while behind the wheel. This includes actions you might not think twice about, including texting while sitting at a red light.
Other Distractions Prohibited by Nevada Law
Each year, more than 400,000 people suffer injuries in accidents due at least in part to distracted driving. While Nevada law focuses heavily on the dangers of driving while texting, other distractions can pose just as much danger to the driver and to others who share the road with him. Many familiar activities can result in a distracted driving citation.
Programming a GPS Device
You can certainly use your GPS to navigate the streets of Nevada and ensure that you reach your destination. Make sure, however, that you do not start up your device–or even reprogram it–while the car remains in motion. If you do need to start your GPS or make changes to your route, pull your car to the side of the road or even move into a parking lot to make sure you can pay full attention to the task at hand. Do not watch your GPS device while driving. While you can check directions as they come up with a simple glance, paying too much attention to your GPS can make it difficult for you to keep up with events on the road.
Using Smart Devices
Most people now know that they should not text and drive (though a high percentage of drivers of any age do it anyway), but many people do not think about the smart devices, including those connected to their phones, that can pose an equal distraction. For example, your smartwatch connects directly to your phone. A glance at the screen will allow you to easily read your messages and, depending on the device, respond to those messages with the press of a button. Unfortunately, the smaller screen on a smartwatch may mean that it poses even more distraction than a phone, since you will need to take your attention from the road longer and it can provide more difficult to decipher those messages.
Other Challenges and Distractions Behind the Wheel
Nevada law directly prohibits texting or using your cell phone for any purpose while driving. It does not, however, directly prohibit many of the other distractions that can take your attention from the road. You can, for example, choose to pull through fast food restaurant, open up your fries, and munch all the way home.
That does not necessarily mean, however, that you will not face consequences for those distractions.
Many drivers try to save time by performing tasks behind the wheel that take their attention from everything happening around them. Eating and drinking poses a common example, but some drivers may try to put on makeup, prepare for work, or take on other tasks while driving. Each of these tasks can significantly raise the risk of an accident. When possible, you should try to avoid all distractions behind the wheel.
As a driver, take these steps to help decrease distractions.
- Place your phone somewhere else in the vehicle, out of reach.
- Silence smart devices, including your watch, before driving.
- Use an app that will silence text notifications and calls while driving. Some apps will even send an automated response, letting the sender know you will get back to them when no longer driving.
- Program your GPS, set your radio, and manage temperature controls before getting behind the wheel.
- Avoid cognitive distractions, including dealing with the kids, when possible.
Distracted drivers can end up causing accidents with serious injuries. If you suffered injuries in an accident with a distracted driver, you may need legal support to help you understand your rights and give you the support you need. Contact Gina Corena & Associates today for your free consultation.