April is National Distracted Driving Month and the Nevada Highway Patrol will be implementing a zero-tolerance enforcement period next week as a strict traffic safety initiative to curtail the use of hand-held phones while motorists are driving.
According to NHP spokesman Chuck Allen, troopers around the Silver State are still continuing to observe motorists texting, talking, and reading non-voice communications despite the fact this behavior became illegal more than 15 months ago.
In 2012, Allen said the Nevada Highway Patrol issued 12,275 citations statewide to motorists observed breaking this law. Thirty-two motorists received a second citation last year and 25 of those same motorists were cited a third time for ignoring the law. The enforcement activity for the first quarter of 2013 appears to be similar to last year’s statistics. 2,851 citations have already been issued statewide during the first three months of this year.
Talking or texting on a cell while operating a motor vehicle is a preventable crime.
“We are asking everyone to help make our highways safer by refraining from this activity or adapting to a hands-free type device if telephonic communication becomes necessary,” Allen said. “In an effort to create more awareness to this frequently observed illegal activity, we are announcing an upcoming initiate in advance to all motorists.”
Sgt. Dave Cox, supervisor of the Fallon District office, said his officers will issue citations for those using their cellphones for calls or texting. He said cellphone use by motorists in Churchill County is prevalent. His officers write three to four citations daily.
“We’re trained to be observers,” Cox said. “It doesn’t take long to make connection with drivers who are texting.”
Although the NHP is pushing its statewide zero-tolerance next week, Cox said everyday in the Fallon area has been zero tolerance, not only for cellphone use but also for not buckling up with a seatbelt.
The fine for a first time offense is approximately $112, said Cox, and that includes court fees. A second offense costs about $192 and third and subsequent offenses within a seven-year period average about $350. Additionally, Cox said there are four demerit points assessed against one’s driver’s license if convicted on a second and subsequent offense.
“It will not take too many offenses for drivers to lose their licenses,” Cox said.
To avoid receiving a citation, the NHP has issued the following safety tips:
Turn off your phone or put it out of reach while driving.
Adapt to a hands-free type device and discipline yourself to always use it.
Don’t call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving.
Don’t look at your phone to read or send an e-mail or text message even when stopped in traffic while waiting for a traffic signal light to cycle. (This is probably where we see the most violations occur).
Don’t even hold your phone to look at the time or to scroll to your next contact.