Currently in the United States, no state has enacted a comprehensive ban on cell phone use while driving. Thirty states have outlawed texting while driving, and California only allows hands-free cell phone use. But at this time, Nevada does not have any restrictions on cell phone use while driving.
That may change sometime this year.
On Wednesday, a state lawmaker from North Las Vegas expressed his support not only for legislation that would prohibit texting while driving, but also for a complete ban on cell phone use while driving. This statement is significant because Kelvin Atkinson is the chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee which oversees this type of legislation – and he was against outlawing cell phone use while driving just two years ago (when he refused to allow a vote on a Senate measure banning texting while driving).
As he introduced Assembly Bill 151 this week which would outlaw texting while driving, Atkinson explained his change of heart by citing two factors. One was a substantial amount of input from his constituents who reported being involved in motor vehicle accidents with texting drivers, and the other was the notion that the federal Department of Transportation might take away state’s transportation funding unless such laws are in place.
Atkinson also said he believes that both state houses support a total ban on cell phone use while driving. To that end, Las Vegas Assemblyman Harvey Munford submitted Assembly Bill 173 on Wednesday which completely prohibits handheld cell phone use while driving. This bill is similar to one submitted last week by Henderson state senator Shirley Breeden.
Governor Brian Sandoval has not yet taken a position on these measures, saying that he wants to review the actual legislation first. But if these bills are passed and signed into law, they could take effect on October 1 of this year or even sooner. In addition to criminal charges that would be faced by cell phone using drivers, accident victims would have stronger personal injury lawsuit cases in civil court if they could show that the plaintiff was talking or texting on a cell phone while driving.