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Nevada to Decriminalize Traffic Violations & Understanding Basic Traffic Laws

Traffic Signs should be obeyed in Nevada

Careless mistakes on the road can get a motor vehicle driver pulled over and thus result in a ticket accompanied by a heavy fine. Nevada is one of thirteen states that can arrest a driver for unpaid tickets. A new bill introduced by Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen of Las Vegas aims to end this policy. In Clark County, a person spends an average of three days in jail if they have an unpaid ticket, and these three days often result in job loss or loss of wages that can be used for housing or childcare. Additionally, Nguyen states, “These costs taxpayers millions of dollars each year, and it can cost those who are unable to pay the loss of their jobs.”

The state can look at cities like Carson City as an example when examining this legislative change. In 2019, Carson City stopped issuing warrants for traffic violations, and the city saw an increase of 8.9% in the city’s collection rate of fines. In addition, the pandemic has put financial strains on many Nevadans, making it even harder for them to pay extra fees and fines.

While Nguyen wants to eliminate jail time, she does hope that amendments will be created to keep the integrity of traffic stops. One of the suggestions was to create a community service option for those unable to pay the fines. Whatever the alternative may be, this bill is a push to foster equity in Nevada and foster conversations to improve our traffic laws. [1]

Driving Safely on Nevada Roads

While change in regard to traffic tickets is imminent, it is important to drive with caution on Nevada roads and follow the signs and signals posted on the road. After all, the simplest way to avoid a traffic ticket is by following the rules. Here are some reminders for drivers:

  • Drive defensively: Aggressive driving can bother other drivers and endanger yourself and other drivers. Driving erratically, weaving lanes, or accelerating unnecessarily can catch the attention of a highway patrol and can result in you being pulled over.
  • Obey the Speed Limit: While this may seem self-explanatory, we are often quick to forget the posted speed, especially if we are in a rush. It is always a good idea to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to reach your destination, making speeding unnecessary.
  • Be Aware of School Zones or Construction Zones: Certain areas may have different speed limits during a certain time of day. Be extra cautious of this, and if you are unfamiliar with an area, be on the lookout for signs or blinking lights. Remember, speed limits are the maximum speed, not a recommendation.
  • Focus on Driving: While the modern world is busy and can be overwhelming, it is important to keep your complete focus on the road and avoid distracted driving. This means putting aside phones or other devices, avoiding tampering with the radio or multi-tasking while driving.
  • Be Mindful of Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Failure to yield to pedestrians or driving in a bike lane is a violation of Nevada’s traffic law and can result in a traffic ticket.

Pedestrian and Bike Rules in Nevada

In addition to drivers being cited for traffic violations, pedestrians can also get a ticket.  In Nevada, jaywalking is illegal, and occurs when “a pedestrian has access to a crosswalk or an intersection for safe passage, but fails to use it.” [2] In Las Vegas, a pedestrian can incur a fine of $160 while in Reno the fine is $115 if ticketed for jaywalking.

Like pedestrians, bikers are considered “vehicles” under Nevada law and must follow certain traffic laws. Cyclists are required to keep at least one hand on the handlebar, and it is recommended that they keep their personal belongings in a backpack or pocket. Additionally, cyclists are required to travel on the far right of the road unless they are turning left or traveling at a legal speed limit that is equal to the speed of the adjacent traffic. When it comes to riding on the sidewalk, Nevada itself does not prohibit it, but certain ordinances in Las Vegas on Fremont Street between Main Street and Seventh Street do. Ensure you check local laws before cycling on the sidewalk, and it is best if cyclists dismount when other pedestrians are on the sidewalk. Lastly, Bikers who bike at night are required to have the following on their bike to help avoid accidents:

  • A front lamp with a white light that is visible for at least 500 feet.
  • A rear red reflector that is visible from at least 50 feet when in front of a vehicle with low beams on.
  • A reflective material visible from either side of the bicycle for at least 600 feet in front of a vehicle with low beams OR a lighted lamp visible from either side of the bike from at least 500 feet. [3]

If all Nevadans can follow these simple rules, we can keep ourselves and others safe on the road. Additionally, being aware of these rules can reduce our chances of being pulled over or having to deal with the hassle of a traffic ticket.

[1] https://lasvegassun.com/news/2021/feb/17/move-decriminalize-minor-traffic-violations-nevada/

[2]  https://www.lasvegasnevada.gov

[3] https://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-484a.html

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