On Thursday, October 1st, several new traffic laws went into effect in the state of Nevada. The Nevada State Legislature passed the laws earlier this year in response to rising fatality rates across the state. New laws regarding electronic proof of insurance and increased speed limits in rural areas will also affect drivers across the state.

There are many traffic laws already on the books in Nevada that were created to provide safeguards for drivers, passengers and pedestrians. These laws include:

(article continues below infographic)

  • The prohibition of using a cell phone for talking, texting or using the internet while driving, unless using a hands-free accessory
  • Required use of safety belts
  • Mandatory car seat use for infants and children under the age of 6 and weighing less than 60 pounds
  • Laws making it illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or any other substance that could impact a driver’s ability to operate that vehicle safely

Since 2006, when Nevada experienced an all-time high of 432 traffic deaths, the Nevada Committee on Traffic Safety has advocated for additional laws designed to reduce the number of vehicle related fatalities in the state. As a result of these efforts, several new laws have been enacted that could directly affect Las Vegas drivers, particularly those who have been involved in a drunk driving accident.

School Zones

Nevada has the dubious distinction of ranking among the top ten states with the highest pedestrian fatality rates. In fact, between January 1st and October 1st of this year, 30 pedestrians were killed on Clark County, Nevada streets alone. In an effort to protect pedestrians, particularly children, one new law addresses aggressive driving near schools.

As of October 1st, a driver who makes a U-turn in a school zone or school crossing zone in Nevada will pay double the fine.What was once a $1,000 offense will now cost $2,000. It’s also now illegal to pass or overtake another vehicle in one of these protected areas. Though pedestrian safety zones are still in development in Nevada, they are also protected under the same bill.

Understanding the rules regarding school zones and crosswalks in Nevada not only decreases the risk of liability, it saves lives.

Hit and Run Accidents

Another law designed to close loopholes in hit and run cases also became law. This law increased the penalties for those convicted in hit and run cases that cause significant injury or death. Before Senate Bill 245 went into effect, drivers involved in hit and run accidents resulting in bodily harm or property damage could potentially face less severe punishment than those under the influence or alcohol, or other substances leading to driver impairment, at the time of a crash. This new law prevents impaired drivers from fleeing the scene of an accident to avoid DUI charges and encourages them to stick around to assist the victims.

The new maximum prison sentence for hit and run offenders was raised from 15 to 20 years, without the possibility of probation. The new law makes it more beneficial for drivers to stay on the scene, even when they are under the influence. Even drivers who are not at fault for a collision, might be subject to hit and run laws. Drivers involved in drunk driving accidents in Las Vegas should seek the guidance of an attorney.

Speed Limits

New State traffic laws in Nevada have given the Department of Transportation the go-ahead to increase speed limits up to 80 miles per hour on some rural highways. This increase might not happen right away. The Department of Transportation has also been given the authority to determine where the new speed limits will be posted, based on their thorough assessments of the safety hazards involved.

Electronic Proof of Insurance

Another new law authorizes the electronic verification of motor vehicle insurance in Nevada. This means that drivers in Las Vegas, and throughout the state of Nevada, can now show proof of insurance, when requested, using a smart phone or tablet. While this new law can certainly save Nevada residents time and hassle, law enforcement officials across the state suggest, for the safety of all involved, that drivers inform officers before retrieving a phone or any electronic device from a pocket or glove compartment.

With Nevada experiencing a rise in traffic related fatalities between 2013 and 2014, safety on the roads is a hot topic. Nevada legislators continue to explore options for reducing hazards for drivers and pedestrians alike.

For those seeking additional information, the Nevada State Legislature provides a complete list of the new laws which took effect on October 1st, 2015 on their website.