Nevada transportation laws may be contributing to the risk of motor vehicle accidents. Fatal crashes have steadily increased over the previous three years, including a 3.3% increase from 2019 to 2020. According to the Nevada Highway Patrol, a substantial majority of the 314 fatal crashes that occurred in 2020 resulted from impaired driving or speeding. Notably, Nevada experienced an increase in crash fatalities even though there was a 39% decrease in car fatalities in March and a 44% decrease in May.
Safety Issues with Nevada Traffic Laws
Nevada is among the bottom 12 states in terms of traffic safety, according to the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS). This low ranking is due to several reasons, including but not limited to:
- Nevada is one of only 16 states that does not enforce primary front-seat safety belts. A secondary seat belt law means a police officer cannot pull over drivers for not wearing a seatbelt absent other circumstances.
- Nevada also lacks child safety laws. For example, Nevada does not require young children to sit in booster seats when they have outgrown forward-facing child safety seats. Nevada also lacks a law that requires children under the age of two to sit in the backseat of vehicles in rear-facing safety seats. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, adopting these laws is responsible for reducing fatal injuries by 54% for toddlers and 71% for infants.
- Finally, according to AHAS, Nevada also allows 16-year-old drivers to obtain licenses after six months of supervised driving. Safety data reveals that there has been a 10% to 30% reduction in teen-involved accidents in states that adopted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs.
Recommendations for Safer Laws
According to AHAS, Nevadans can make their streets safer by following some basic rules. For example, infants and toddlers should be in rear-facing seats until they turn two. Children who are older than two should ride in front-facing car seats until they are at least 65 pounds.
Once children reach 65 pounds, they should ride in booster seats until they are 4’9 tall. At that height, a vehicle’s seat belts will fit properly across a child’s chest. Finally, parents should teach their teenage children about the risks of irresponsible motor vehicle operations. Parents should especially emphasize the dangers of distracted driving – such as texting and speaking on the phone.