Are Nevada Laws to Blame For Poor Traffic Safety?

Fatal crashes have been on a steady increase in Nevada over the past three years, with 2020 having a 3.3 percent increase from 2019. The Nevada Highway Patrol reported that a large majority of the 314 fatal crashes in 2020 were caused by speeding or impatient driving. [1] However, a recent report by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) suggests that Nevada laws contribute to the risks of accidents on Nevada roads.

Understanding Nevada’s Traffic Laws

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety ranked Nevada’s traffic laws as red, meaning the “State falls dangerously behind in adoption of recommended optimal laws.” This ranks Nevada among the twelve worst states for Traffic safety in the United States. The reason for this ranking is rooted in loose traffic laws in Nevada.

To begin, Nevada is one of only 16 states that does not have a primary enforcement front seat belt law. Instead, we have a secondary enforcement seat belt laws, meaning a driver or passenger cannot be pulled over solely because of a lack of seatbelt. Many organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourage States to adopt the primary enforcement because it increases law enforcement agencies’ ability to protect people from needless deaths, while encouraging more people to use seatbelts at risk of consequences.

Another law that the organization focused on was child passenger safety. The AHAS and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommend laws mandating children face the rear until two years of age.  Furthermore, children 4-8 years old must use a booster seat if they are shorter than 57 inches and weigh between 20 and 65 pounds.  The adoption of these laws in other States has reduced fatal injury by seventy-one percent for infants and fifty-four percent for toddlers in motor vehicles. In 2017, 325 lives were saved by use of these child restraints.

Lastly, the AHAS discussed the teen driving laws in Nevada. Currently, a sixteen-year-old can obtain a driver’s license after six months of supervised driving. The AHAS suggests that Nevada increases the age for obtaining a license and increase the number of hours for supervised driving. They point to other States like Maine and New York, where the age to obtain a license is seventeen and one year of supervised driving is necessary before obtaining a license. In these States, after the adoption of these laws, the number of teen-involved traffic accidents decreased by twenty percent. [2]

Instructions and Precautions for Infants and Teen Driving

We as Nevadans can also help decrease the number of accidents on our roads. While some of our laws are not optimal, we can take precautions to help keep ourselves and our loved ones safe while traveling.

When it comes to seatbelts, buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. Wearing your seatbelt is the best way to protect yourself from distracted, aggressive, or impaired drivers. Seatbelts keep you secured in the car and keeps you from being ejected—which almost always results in life-changing injuries or death. Additionally, wearing your seatbelt reduces your chances of colliding with an expanding airbag, which can also have dangerous results.

Protecting one’s child is also an important step. When considering child restraints in motor vehicles, it is important to consider the following age groups:

  • Infant and Toddlers: Children in this age group should be in a rear-facing seat. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing seat until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat manufacturer. The average convertible rear-facing seat allows a child to use it until the age of two.
  • Toddlers (2+) and Preschoolers: Children in this age group should use a forward-facing car seat with a harness. These seats should be able to accommodate children until they are sixty-five pounds. Always be sure to make sure with the car seat manufacturer on the maximum height or weight for your model.
  • School Aged Children (65 lbs.+): This age group should use a booster. Children should use a booster seat until the vehicle’s seatbelt fits properly on their shoulders. Most seatbelts should fit a height of 4’ 9”, the average height for an eight-to-twelve-year-old.
  • Older Children: Children over the height minimum discussed above should use the vehicle’s seatbelt. Ensure the belt fits correctly and goes over both the lap and shoulder for maximum safety. Children under the age of thirteen should ride in the back seat of the car. [3]

Lastly, when it comes to Nevada teen driving, it is important that teens and parents both work together to make the most of supervised hours, and it is important that the parent or supervisor   shows the teen the risks of driving irresponsibly. Once driving unsupervised, it is important for teens to avoid distractions and avoid escorting other non-family members until more they are more comfortable behind the wheel. Additionally, it is important for teens to follow Nevada mandated curfew that prohibits them from driving after 10 p.m. during the first six months after obtaining a driver’s license.





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