Distracted driving makes Nevada roads hazardous

The Nevada Department of Transportation’s “Zero Fatalities / Drive Safe Nevada” program reports that there are an estimated 3,500 distraction-related car crashes in Nevada annually. That represents roughly 20 percent of all accidents that happen on the state’s roads each year. The number of accidents could be even higher, though, since it is sometimes difficult for investigators to ascertain whether distraction was a contributing factor.

A wide range of possible distractions

Many people don’t realize this, but both “old school” distractions (like eating, drinking, grooming, talking with passengers, becoming engrossed in scenery and reading a map), and more modern conveniences (CD or mp3 players, handheld cellphones, texting, watching videos, checking GPS/navigation systems, emailing or surfing the web) are equally dangerous, and any of them could easily cause a serious car or truck accident.

State action

The startling statistics about distracted driving crashes have prompted the Nevada legislature and prominent state agencies to take action. The state now has implemented bans on texting while driving, using handheld cellphones behind the wheel or using any handheld electronics while operating a vehicle (including mp3 players and GPS devices); these offenses can result in a citation of up to $250, even if no additional traffic laws have been broken.

In addition, the NVDOT’s “Zero Fatalities” program offers an interactive website designed to both raise awareness of the issue and convince Nevada drivers to think twice about the very real consequences their decision to not focus on the road could have. The NVDOT’s programs devote a great deal of attention to the issue of texting while driving. This is a particularly troublesome behavior, as texting is one of the most distracting activities possible. Texting may be second nature to many of us now, but we generally underestimate the level of focus required to do it; it requires visual attention, meaning a driver’s eyes won’t be on the road, manual attention, meaning his hands won’t be on the wheel, and cognitive attention, meaning his brain isn’t focused on the road ahead.

National action

Federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have also taken notice of the epidemic of distracted driving in Nevada and around the country. The “Distraction.gov” site has been live for several years now, providing up-to-date statistics about the numbers of distraction-related car accidents around the country as well as information about the types of laws passed by state legislatures to fight back against the tide of distracted driving.

Even some of the nation’s largest cellphone providers have gotten involved. The national “Texting and Driving, It Can Wait” campaign centers around the thought-provoking and emotional aftermath of crashes caused by texting drivers, and features surviving family members of victims killed in these tragic accidents.

Seeking help

Sadly, accidents caused by distracted drivers are still much too common, injuring an estimated 420,000 people across the country each year. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car crash with a distracted driver, you have rights. To learn more about your rights and legal options – including possibly seeking compensation from the driver who caused your injuries – speak with a Nevada personal injury attorney.