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As We See It

Is the cellphone ban for drivers really working?

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Metro Police’s Traffic Bureau patrols for motorists using cellphones near Flamingo Road and Maryland Parkway on Jan. 6, 2012.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It’s now been a year since Nevada enacted its cellphone ban for motorists, and thousands of drivers have already been slapped with citations for either texting or talking.

But one troubling statistic from the Nevada Highway Patrol shows that we’re still a long way from getting everyone to keep their eyes on the road and off the screen: Nearly 12,000 tickets were handed out for cellphone use by the NHP in 2012. Of that total, 30 were for second-time offenders … and 25 were for those who were caught a third time.

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That’s right. Somewhere out there are 25 drivers who somehow thought it was okay to keep playing Words With Friends despite getting caught in the act twice already. And it’s not like the penalties are cheap: The first offense is $112, the second is $192, and the third is $352. Furthermore, the second and third violations add four demerit points on your driving record.

The message here: We LOVE our phones, and apparently money (and the possible loss of our license) is no object.

If, however, you’re reading this and want to change your ways, let’s recap how the law works: You can use Bluetooth or other hands-free devices to talk on the phone, and you can use mapping programs, but the minute you look down to change coordinates or find other phone numbers, you are breaking the law. Unless you can do everything through voice activation, you shouldn’t be doing it.

No doubt at some point in the future all automobile manufacturers will install technology to make this problem a thing of the past, but here in 2013 it seems safe to say we’ve got a long, long way to go in getting everyone’s eyes on the road.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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