Distracted driving problem big, getting worse, AAA survey finds

Updated May 6, 2018 - 11:12 pm

We’ve all seen that wayward motorist swerving into another lane, or gotten stuck behind someone who didn’t go when the signal turned green.

Most likely, those motorists were too busy looking down at their cellphones rather than paying attention to the road.

A poll released last month by AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 87.5 percent of us believe distracted driving is getting worse, outpacing traffic congestion, aggressive drivers, motorists who use drugs and drunken driving as “growing concerns” on the road.

About 49 percent of the respondents admitted to using a hand-held phone while driving, according to AAA’s poll of 2,613 licensed drivers across the United States who were 16 and older between Oct. 14 and Nov. 17, 2017.

Nearly 45 percent of those surveyed said they read a text or email message while driving, while 34.6 percent sent a text or email while driving, AAA officials said at the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month in May.

“Texting while driving increases the odds of a crash by two to eight times,” AAA Nevada spokesman Michael Blasky said.

“Driving while talking on mobile devices, even when they’re hands-free, makes an accident four times as likely,” Blasky said. “As drivers, we simply have to find ways to eliminate distractions behind the wheel.”

Motorists distracted by navigation systems, eating, applying makeup, shaving or even chatting with passengers may be cited under Nevada’s “fail to pay full attention while driving” law.

Nevada’s cellphone law requires drivers to pull to the side of the road or use a hands-free Bluetooth device.

For those who absolutely feel the need to use their electronic devices, Blasky suggested that drivers designate a passenger to answer incoming calls, send or reply to text messages and assist with navigation when the vehicle is in motion.

Otherwise, use the technologies for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes, he said.

Lights need to be turned on

Sherri from Las Vegas noticed that a set of street lights had been installed at Rainbow Boulevard and Mountains Edge Parkway in the southwest valley, but they weren’t turned on.

Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said a developer installed the lights, but county officials are designing a traffic signal for that dark intersection.

Once the county acquires the right of way and crews install the traffic signal, then the street lights will be switched on, Kulin said. Unfortunately, there’s no timeline on when that might happen.

Green arrow working again

Ken from North Las Vegas wanted to know why there isn’t a dedicated green arrow for drivers wanting to turn left at Lake Mead Boulevard and Belmont Street.

“There used to be one, but now we only have a flashing yellow arrow that causes a considerable backup,” Ken wrote in an email to the Road Warrior.

North Las Vegas city spokeswoman Delen Goldberg said there was a temporary operation problem with the signal. Crews have fixed the problem, and the dedicated green arrow should be working now.

Confusing school zone signs

Matthew from Las Vegas noticed some confusing school zone signs along northbound Lamb Avenue, just north of Washington Boulevard.

“A new school zone sign was posted for a charter school that recently opened, but the old speed limit signs were never removed,” Matthew said in an email to the Road Warrior. “So, you go from a school zone to a 40 mph area, then an ‘end of school zone’ sign, followed by another ‘end of school zone sign.’”

Yes, that definitely sounds confusing.

Part of the problem may come from the fact that there is a crosswalk at Lamb and Monroe Avenue that’s designated for a nearby public school, which is separate from the charter school zone at Lamb and Washington, Las Vegas city spokeswoman Margaret Kurtz said.

Matthew’s question prompted city staffers to start reviewing the signs along Lamb to determine how to reduce the confusion, Kurtz said.

Sign will be replaced

Jo from Las Vegas noticed that the street sign at the south end of Bedford Road, near Charleston Boulevard, has gone missing for at least three years and wanted to know when it will be replaced.

Kurtz, the Las Vegas spokeswoman, said Jo’s question prompted city crews to order a new sign, which will be installed sometime soon.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Follow the Road Warrior on Twitter: @RJroadwarrior.

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