Texting while driving is a serious traffic offense with dire consequences, such as monetary fines, loss of licenses, property damages, injuries, and possible fatal motor vehicle accidents. In 2012, Nevada banned texting while driving. As of January 2023, however, this civil infarction offense has been downgraded to a mere misdemeanor charge. The fines and consequences of this traffic violation have remained the same, however.
Operating portable tech devices puts the driver, passengers, and other road users at heightened risk of auto accidents. The distracted driving risks to the victims are many times more pronounced than that of drunk driving. According to a study by Virginia Tech, using a phone while driving increases the risk of auto collisions by as much as 23 times.
Nevada laws also prohibit motorists behind the wheel from engaging in distracting activities, such as internet browsing, grooming, eating or drinking, reading, and watching videos. First-time violators face penalties of up to $50. Repeat offenders pay fines of between $100 and $250. The initial violation does not qualify as a moving violation, but subsequent offenses result in double the penalties.
Evidence That Might Be Used to Prove Distracted Driving Caused an Accident
Nevada relies on the general distracted driving laws to prosecute wrongdoers. This blanket statute encapsulates all forbidden activities performed while operating vehicles. It covers activities that effectively render the vehicle operator impaired and unable to drive safely.
Specific distracted driving statutes may apply where the driver engages in activities while driving. These activities include using electronic gadgets, grooming, tending to pets, watching videos, reading, and writing without using hands-free technology.
Proving that an accident occurred due to distracted driving has its fair share of challenges. Generally, few drivers willingly admit to causing accidents because of a distracting phone call or text. After all, causing accidents while on the phone or due to other driving distractions is a strong basis for an injury claim from the injured party. Furthermore, distracted drivers risk hefty fines and possible jail sentences.
To file an accident claim against a distracted driver, you or your lawyer must present evidence that the driver was on his or her phone right before or during the car accident. You must show that the primary contributory factor was the distraction due to texting or talking on the phone while driving to get compensation. You must also establish a link between the accident and your resulting damages, losses, and other expenses.
Your lawyer may argue that had the other driver not been distracted by the cell phone, he or she would have taken reasonable steps to prevent the accident, such as evasive action, and that would have prevented the resulting injuries or damages from happening.
Motor vehicle accident lawyers rely on phone records to determine the call times relating to the accident. CCTV footage of the accident can also provide vital evidence in distracted driving cases. Lawyers can review the traffic cams or private CCTVs in and around the accident scene. That enables the lawyers to clarify what the driver was up to before the accident. This footage is permissible as court evidence, as it sheds light on who is to blame for the accident.
Witness statements are also a crucial form of evidence in a car accident case involving a distracted driver. Besides providing statements, witnesses to the accident might testify under oath whether the driver was actually on the phone in the lead-up to the accident. This is especially true if the case proceeds to trial.
To support your claim, you can begin building your case at the scene of the crash. Collect the contact details of any person who saw the accident and is willing to testify before a judge or jury that the at-fault party was on the phone or engaged in other distracting activities before or during the accident. If possible, take photos of the scene, as well as any skid marks on the road.
With your lawyer, you can use a subpoena to obtain private and public CCTV footage. The footage might show the at-fault party using a cell phone or engaging in other distracted driving acts, such as grooming, talking to passengers, or even tending to pets. Your lawyer can also help you obtain the other driver’s cell phone records from the relevant communication services provider.
Dangers of Texting and Driving
Taking your eyes off the roadway for a mere five seconds while cruising at 55 mph compares to speeding through an entire football field while blindfolded. Such reckless actions often lead to lifetime consequences, as evidenced by the rising injuries and loss of lives due to distracted driving.
According to the National Safety Council, distracted drivers are responsible for over 1.6 million auto crashes and at least 200,000 serious injuries yearly. Asides from injuries to oneself, the at-fault party is accountable for the resulting injuries and property damages to other road users. Additionally, these reckless actions lead to monetary fines and lengthy driver’s license suspensions.
Other consequences of texting and driving in Nevada include:
Higher Insurance Premium Rates
Getting slapped with distracted driving tickets has far-reaching consequences. The motorist risks his or her life and that of others. The motorist also risks losing his or her driving license. The offense also affects one’s insurance rates.
Whereas a single speeding ticket has little impact on your insurance rate, repeated infractions are a red flag. You get deemed a high-risk party more likely to get involved in future road incidents. Consequently, you get higher insurance rates on your policy. Repeat traffic violators find it hard to get insurance coverage. Even when these repeat violators find a willing insurer, they have to pay up to two times the regular coverage rates.
Punitive Demerit Point Codes
Getting demerit points is another danger of distracted driving citations. Traffic law violations in Nevada carry more than the $50 to $250 penalties. Guilty parties are also subject to punitive measures that involve assigning demerit points. Here, the person involved in using his or her device while on the road gets demerit points, depending on the severity of the violation. A repeat offender who racks up a certain number of demerit points risks having his or her driving license revoked.
Typically, first-time violators do not get handed demerit points. The reason is this infarction does not amount to a moving violation. A second offense, however, earns the motorists four demerit points. If you accumulate upwards of three demerit points, the DMV staff will send a letter to your listed address.
Motorists with three or more points must undertake a traffic safety course to have the points expunged from their records. At times, the inattentive driving law that deals with such repeat violators may require the accused to undergo additional traffic safety courses.
Motorists who have racked 12 or more demerit points in less than a year will automatically have their license revoked for six months. After 12 months, the total demerit points accumulated get dropped or scrapped, but that does not let you off the hook. These offenses stick to your driving records forever.
Familiarizing yourself with Nevada’s Highway Safety Association rules and guidelines is a wise decision. You need this information to understand the distracted driving enforcement laws and penalties.
Nevada drivers need to stay alert and focused while using busy roadways. All motorists need to refrain from texting while driving for everyone’s safety. That call or text can wait a few more minutes as you find a parking spot to reply. It is not worth risking life and property to respond to a call while on the road. Victims have a right to sue and pursue compensation for the resulting damages and injuries.
Exceptions to the Texting While Driving Laws
There are some exceptions to the no texting while driving rules, however. For example, the courts may exempt a person found to be driving while using the smartphone if the person was reporting criminal activity, a safety hazard, or a medical emergency.
Motorists using voice-controlled navigation features are also exempted from prosecution in Nevada. Other exemptions include persons authorized to use dual-band devices while on the road. This exception extends to firefighters, police, emergency workers, and utility workers tasked with restoring communication services during disasters or storms.
Heightened Risks to Young Drivers
According to Nevada’s DMV records, younger drivers are more susceptible to distracted driving practices. As many as 77% of young drivers are guilty of talking over the phone and texting while on the roads, as evidenced by the rising numbers of tickets handed to drivers under 20 years.
Tips to Avoid Driving Distractions
In as much as using these devices is inevitable, texting while driving comes with severe, life-changing consequences. A momentary lapse in concentration as you read a text message can easily cause untold harm and injury to yourself and other road users. Here are some tips to help you avoid the penalties and possible injuries caused by distracted driving in Nevada:
Buy the Right Car
If your career or other circumstances require you to be reachable by phone or text at all times, opt for a vehicle with advanced hands-free features, such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth enhancements. Read the user manuals carefully. That helps you to properly configure these safe driving enhancements before hitting the road.
You can install upgrades if you have an older car that lacks hands-free enhancements. Consult with your local dealership for the latest enhancement upgrades.
Switch to Silent Mode
Place your device on silent mode to fight the temptation to answer and reply to calls and messages. That simple move helps you concentrate on the driving task and reach your destination in one piece.
Configure Your Phone
You could also adjust your phone’s settings to enable auto-reply options or delayed message notifications. Place your phone in driving mode or “do not disturb” mode for distraction-free driving.
Pulling Off the Road and Parking
Pull off the road and find a parking space to answer or make an urgent phone call instead of doing it on the roadway.
Delegate Calls and Texts
Request your passengers to assist with answering or rejecting the calls. You can ask the passenger to inform the caller that you are unavailable, or he or she can reply to incoming text messages.
Measures to Curb Distracted Driving
Authorities have introduced measures to prevent an escalation of distracted driving. Law enforcement agencies have been placed on high alert for drivers texting or using phones while on the roads.
Authorities have started public awareness initiatives to enforce safe driving practices and culture. Young people are getting taught about the risks of driving while texting. Authorities use public service announcements and driving simulation apps to spread awareness.
These measures will not have any meaningful impact unless drivers take a proactive role in preventing distracted driving incidents.
Get a skilled personal injury lawyer involved if you or a family member gets injured in a distracted driving accident. A distracted driving lawyer knows the evidence required to prove that the other driver was driving while distracted and maximize your compensation.
Your lawyer can handle the investigation, case filing, settlement negotiations with the insurer, and litigation if your case goes to trial. The lawyer can safeguard your right and best interests at every stage of your case, ensuring you get a decent financial recovery.