RENO — Senate Bill 140, which was passed this year during the 2011 legislative session and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval on June 17, goes into effect Oct. 1.
This new law prohibits the use of a cellular phone or other handheld wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle in certain circumstances. This is a primary law, which means officers do not need to observe a separate violation before initiating a traffic enforcement stop.
To help educate the public and to create awareness about this law, traffic enforcement officers who observe this violation may initiate a traffic stop; however, no citations for using this hand held device will be issued until Jan. 1, 2012.
This Independence Day holiday weekend, more traffic is expected on our highways. Drivers who minimize their distractions and focus on their driving at all times will greatly reduce the chance of an unplanned event. To put this into a numerical perspective, there are more than 3,500 distraction-related crashes in Nevada every year, and more than 60 deaths in the past five years. Additionally, there is no way to calculate how many close calls have been caused by distracted driving. Across the nation in 2009, 5,474 people died on U.S. roadways while another 448,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes reported to have distracted driving involved.
Although SB 140 doesn’t go into effect until Oct. 1, motorists who currently communicate without a hands free device should plan on adjusting their habits now in an effort to comply with the new law in October.