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Lawmakers in Nevada have finally begun addressing the problem of distracted driving in our state. Earlier this year, the governor signed a new law prohibiting the use of handheld cell phones while driving on Nevada roads. But based on what police are saying, a large number of drivers aren’t getting the message.

The handheld cell phone ban calls for fines to be issued for violations starting January 1; until then, law enforcement officers are only giving out warnings. But according to a column in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, not only are police reporting a large number of violators of this new law, but they’re also noting a feeling that many motorists aren’t taking the law seriously. Some drivers have expressed shock and angst at even being pulled over for talking on a cell phone while driving.

Moreover, police are still seeing numerous instances of distracted driving which don’t even involve cell phones. Anecdotes of people putting on makeup, shaving, and even reading the newspaper while driving have been reported by police officers. North Las Vegas recently passed a distracted driving law (which includes talking on hands-free cell phones), but police there still say that many people are not adhering to it. One police lieutenant quoted in the column says that if North Las Vegas had a zero-tolerance policy on distracted driving, "I could not even get two or three blocks from the police station before pulling someone over."

Distracted drivers should keep in mind that if their behavior causes an auto accident in which people are hurt or killed, they could be named as defendants in personal injury lawsuits or wrongful death lawsuits. Perhaps this fact may be enough to change people’s driving habits.