In recent years, distracted driving claimed the lives of several hundreds of Nevadans, and injured many, causing permanent damage or life altering injuries. An estimated 16 percent of fatal crashes and 21 percent of injury-involved crashes involved distractions while operating a motor vehicle .
What Is Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving is anything that can take the driver’s attention away from the road. Most commonly, people refer to texting or speaking on the phone when discussing distracted driving. However, distracted driving can include many things including the following:
- Eating or drinking while driving: Consuming food or drink while driving can cause a driver to remove one or both hands from the steering wheel and focus their attention on eating. Additionally, hot food or drinks can spill on the driver, surprising the driver and therefore causing an accident.
- Putting on makeup: Once again, putting on makeup can distract one from the road and may cause the driver to remove one or more hands from the steering wheel.
- Other Passengers in Vehicle: Drivers who become too wrapped up in a conversation or are distracted by loud and distracting passengers may fail to realize hazards on the road.
- Taking Care of Children or Pets: A quick look back at a child or pet can take the driver’s eyes and attention off the road.
- Adjusting the music: If the driver cannot complete these actions without taking their hand off the steering wheel, they should consider waiting for a stop sign, or just keeping the music as is.
- Checking Maps on a phone or GPS: It is important to stay on route and not get lost, however it can be dangerous to look away from the road to view a map. this can cause rear end collisions or can cause the driver to fail to recognize slowing of traffic. Instead, have a passenger aide you with directions. 
To avoid any distractions while driving, Do not multitask behind the wheel. Most people’s brains simply cannot multitask well, and those distractions could cause an accident. If there is an emergency or you need to speak or text someone, it is always better to pull over safely to do so. Here are some other ways to reduce distracted driving:
- Reduce Eating In the Car: Instead, stop to eat somewhere. If you HAVE to eat, then choose a food that is easy to handle and can be consumed quickly.
- Program your MAPs while Parked: Avoid checking the map several times while driving. If possible, familiarize yourself with the maps and route before getting in the vehicle. Also, enable the speaking feature in maps to reduce looking at the screen.
- Secure pets properly in the vehicle: Unfastened pets cause significant distractions, and they may have a greater risk of serious injury in an accident if not properly secured.
- Leave a little more time for the Commute: Stress and pressure can increase the chance of distraction behind the wheel. Get up earlier or change your morning schedule to better fit the time frame. This will keep you and other Nevadans on the road safe and prevents any unnecessary motor vehicle accidents.
Distracted Driving in Las Vegas Area
Nevada has adopted rules that help mitigate the number of distracted drivers, as drivers who are deemed to be distracted can incur an initial fine of fifty dollars. A second offense or more can result in a three-hundred dollar fine, and repeated offenses by someone under the age of eighteen can result in license revocation. 
However, when driving in the Las Vegas area, one’s surroundings can easily distract them. This is the reason that Las Vegas Highway Patrol was worried about the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.  They fear that this new “landmark” can spark drivers’ curiousness, especially when lit at night, and cause a motor vehicle accident. They also worry that new traffic patterns in the area, as well as increased pedestrians can cause motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents. As a Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles spokesperson noted, “Increased traffic, along with the stadium itself, they say, may cause drivers to stop suddenly and drift into other lanes.” She cautioned drivers to stay alert, and revealed the Las Vegas Raiders and NDOT were working together to create new traffic patterns, especially on game day.
Distractions can come in many different shapes and sizes, but as a driver, it is our responsibility to stay focused on the road and ensure we keep ourselves and those around us safe. While it is easy to get distracted by our surroundings, especially like an urban area like Las Vegas, it is important to focus on the vehicles and pedestrians around, helping us do our part in keeping Nevada roads safe.
Image Credit: Government of Alberta