Dwindling officer numbers make Distracted Driver Law tough to enforce

I waited my turn at the three-way stop, then watched incredulously as a woman tearing along in her Lexus never touched the brake as she roared past the stop sign and headed south on Anasazi Drive. And the stop sign had a blinking red light.

She was holding her cellphone in one hand while animating what appeared to be a rant with her other hand.

Just as I was about to turn left off of Thomas W. Ryan Boulevard and onto Anasazi, a man driving what looked like a Nissan also failed to stop at the same blinking red sign while following the Lexus. He, too, held a phone in one hand and appeared to be figuratively ranting with his other hand.

“Did you see that?” my wife asked. “Incredible,” was all I could say. Then it occurred to me: “How could they drive while both hands were occupied?”

My wife commented with a twist of humor, “Maybe they’re married to each other and were just having a spat.”

While it was highly coincidental and indeed poignant that both drivers were holding phones, waving their opposite hands and never stopping, they easily could have represented an accident waiting to happen. And maybe they did crash somewhere down the road.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more drivers talking on phones, and it’s not the hands-off, Bluetooth variety they’re using. It’s the phones you have to hold in one hand, the kind that precipitated the Distracted Driver Law, which became effective two years ago and says you can be fined, and if you continue violating the law, you can lose your license for six months.

A few days later, two friends witnessed a horrific accident at the corner of Anasazi and Lake Mead Boulevard. A woman moving at a good speed ran a red light and broadsided another vehicle driven by a woman with children in the car. Luckily, no one was killed.

Neither of my friends noticed whether the violator was talking on a phone. Still, the point is this: There are enough reasons why road accidents happen, and the law was enacted by the Legislature to eliminate one of them.

But a conversation with Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Officer Bill Cassell produced no data regarding offenders of the law.

“In the past, we tried to document those kinds of situations,” Cassell said, adding that the bottom line is, “we have no database.”

In essence, there is no way to measure the effectiveness of the law.

You can say, “OK, maybe the numbers have gone up,” that more people are disregarding a law that makes texting and holding a cellphone illegal while driving. And maybe it all goes back to what Cassell called “a criminal psychology that asks, can they get away with it, whether they’re running a red light or talking on the phone?”

Some of the answers may lie in peripheral data that are available. According to Cassell, during a period in 2011, the number of road fatalities in Las Vegas was 66. That jumped significantly to 99 for a corresponding period in 2012 and to 94 in 2013 for the same time frame.

Cassell provided numbers for DUI arrests, a major indicator of road fatalities. There were 7,500 in 2011, down to 6,750 in 2012 and 5,100 in 2013.

Don’t conclude from those figures that there’s a lesser number of drunks getting behind the wheel. But there is a lesser number of police officers giving citations and making arrests.

“The problem is that we have diminishing resources. Taking drunken drivers off the road is always a priority,” Cassell said. “But we don’t have the manpower that we need.

“We are down 25 officers in traffic,” he added. When attempting to correlate that number into everyday traffic control, Cassell said it means a reduction of two to three officers a day.

Based on both available and nonexistent data, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to conclude that the cellphone and texting offenders are having a field day.

Herb Jaffe was an op-ed columnist and investigative reporter for most of his 39 years at the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. His most recent novel, “Double Play,” is now available. Contact him at hjaffe@cox.net.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Family remembers deceased mother
Family members of Adriann Gallegos remember her. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Restoring classic Corvettes to perfection
Members of the National Corvette Restorers Society Convention talk about what it takes to earn the NCRS Top Flight Award for a restored Corvette at South Point in Las Vegas on Tuesday July 17, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Clark County recount votes in commission’s District E primary
Clark County staff begin the recount requested by candidate Marco Hernandez in the democratic primary for the County Commission's District E seat on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Long-running local hip hop producer wants Vegas rappers to shine
Las Vegas Hip Hop producer and co-owner of Digital Insight Recording Studios Tiger Stylz reflects on 30 years of music production in the city. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Construction for new 51s ballpark underway
New home of the Las Vegas 51s is planned to be finished by March 2019 in Summerlin according to team president Don Logan. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Herb Jaffe Video
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like