Nevada cellphone warnings begin Oct. 1 |

Nevada cellphone warnings begin Oct. 1

Kevin MacMillanSierra Sun

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. andamp;#8212; While the Nevada bill outlawing texting and talking on non-hands-free cellphones while driving officially becomes law in January, regional law enforcement plans to be active in warning potential violators starting Oct. 1.Senate Bill 140, passed this year during the 2011 Legislative Session and signed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval on June 17, prohibits the use of a cellular phone or other handheld wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle in certain circumstances, similar to the law currently in place in California.Itandamp;#8217;s a primary law, meaning officers do not need to observe a separate violation before initiating a traffic enforcement stop. Hands-free devices (such as a Bluetooth) will still be allowed.To help educate the motoring public and to create as much awareness about the law, traffic enforcement officers can initiate traffic stops in Nevada starting Oct. 1; however, no citations for using a handheld device may be issued until Jan. 1, 2012.Rob Stepien of the Nevada Highway Patrolandamp;#8217;s Lake Tahoe division andamp;#8212; which patrols U.S. Highway 50 from the East Shore to Stateline and highways 28 and 431 in Incline Village, said patrollers will be active in warning motorists who engage in the soon-to-be illegal activity.andamp;#8220;Weandamp;#8217;ll allow a grace period while people adjust to the new law,andamp;#8221; he said.First-time violators will pay a $50 fine. Penalties can increase to $250, with a potential driverandamp;#8217;s license suspension for a third offense.NHP Trooper Chuck Allen said there are more than 3,500 distraction-related crashes in Nevada every year, and more than 60 deaths in the past five years.andamp;#8220;Additionally, there is no way to calculate how many close calls have been caused by distracted driving,andamp;#8221; Allen said. andamp;#8220;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.andamp;#8220;Drivers who minimize their distractions and focus on their driving at all times will greatly reduce the chance of an unplanned event.andamp;#8221;

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