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Nevadans Ranked Tenth-Worst Drivers in Nation

Battle Born - Nevada's State Motto

To the average Nevadan, it might seem that the state is having a pretty good couple of years. Economic growth and construction are booming. The state’s economy has rebounded and housing prices have more than doubled in the last decade. We’ve seen an influx of new residents, as many Californians have come seeking new jobs and cheaper housing. Even the weather has been shining on Nevada, with record snow falls throughout the eastern Sierras over the last couple of winters. But the state’s profile is somewhat dimmer when it comes to the frequency of Nevada car accidents.

While Nevada is enjoying a renaissance of sorts and is making gains relative to many of its neighbors, there is one area in which the Silver State could stand to improve its standing: an analysis by Car Insurance Comparison recently listed Nevada as tenth overall on its list of the nation’s worst drivers. [1]

While this ranking may be troubling, it is also unsurprising. This is the sixth time in ten years that Nevada has made the top ten on Car Insurance Comparison’s worst-drivers list. (The list is not based on driver sentiment or anecdotal evidence, which would yield a very different result. Native Nevadans will be familiar with the phrase “California driver,” a pejorative often hurled by our grumpy fathers, grandfathers, or uncles at discourteous drivers. While Nevadans may perceive themselves to be an exceptional bunch of drivers, and although they may think that their westerly neighbors are anything but, the data do not bear this out.)

This ranking was mostly due to evidence of driver inattention, but the study also tracked statistics such as pedestrian and bicycle safety, deaths from scooters and mopeds, and alcohol-related fatalities. According to the study, the ten states with the worst drivers in 2019 were:

  • New Mexico
  • South Carolina
  • Arizona
  • Louisiana
  • Texas
  • Colorado
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Alabama
  • Nevada [2]

Distracted Driving

Nevada’s poor ranking in this study was due in large part to inattentive or careless driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA, a federal agency focused on car crashes), distracted driving can result from any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. This includes, but is not limited to, using a phone to talk or text, eating or drinking, talking to passengers in the vehicle, or adjusting the stereo or thermostat. Of these distractions, texting is generally considered the most alarming, as it can take a driver’s attention off the road for five seconds at time. Distracted driving may seem innocent, but it claims over 3,000 lives every year in the United States, or roughly 30 Nevadans. [3]  Still, Nevada failed to pass AB200, it’s latest bill regarding distracted driving in the legislature last year.

The only way to reduce road accidents caused by driver inattention is to eliminate distractions. Never use your cell phone while driving. If you feel you cannot resist looking at your phone, put it out of reach before you start the car or install an app that disables its functions while the car is moving. Adjust the heater and radio before you begin your trip, and set trip navigation while you are still in the Park gear. Never try to eat a meal while driving, and remind passengers to keep conversation and other distractions to a minimum.

Hit and run.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety

Another reason Nevadans ranked among the least safe drivers in the nation was their poor record on pedestrian and bicycle safety. Roughly 6,000 pedestrians are killed each year in the United States, and those numbers are increasing. While pedestrians have no control over the actions of the drivers around them, there are steps that individuals can take to keep themselves safe while walking and biking near busy streets. [4]

In order to prevent a pedestrian accident, always move in a predictable fashion and obey the rules of the road. Walk on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Stay alert at all times. Avoid distractions (such as cell phones) as well as drugs and alcohol. Don’t assume that drivers will see you, and attempt to make eye contact before crossing in front of a moving vehicle. Wear bright, reflective clothing, and avoid walking at night in unlit areas. [5]

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

Although alcohol-related fatalities saw a 17-percent drop in Nevada in the last year, they are still a significant contributor to car accidents, injuries, and deaths in the state. [6] According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults in the United States report drinking and driving over 100 million times a year. Almost 90 percent of these drinking and driving episodes are reported by binge drinkers, making the infractions even more dangerous. Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in roughly a third of fatal car crashes, resulting in over 10,000 deaths annually in the United States. [7]

There are several steps that law enforcement has taken to try to reduce drinking and driving fatalities in the United States and DUI crashes in Nevada. Police sometimes set up sobriety checkpoints during holidays or on critical roadways to check drivers for intoxication. The minimum legal drinking age in most of the United States is 21 years, which prohibits businesses from selling alcohol from people under this age. This helps keep young and less experienced drivers sober. For those who have been convicted of drinking and driving in the past, ignition interlock devices help ensure that they won’t make the same poor choice again by analyzing the amount of alcohol in their breath before allowing the vehicle to operate. [8]

[1] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/12/23/nevada-drivers-ranked-10th-worst-nation-study/2692818001

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving

[4] https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety

[5] Ibid.

[6] https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2019/12/23/nevada-drivers-ranked-10th-worst-nation-study/2692818001

[7] https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/drinkinganddriving/index.html

[8] Ibid.

 

 

 

 

Benson and Bingham