Faith, hope, common sense keep driver safe

Jeri Mortensen says her husband would rank her the worst driver in the world. But ask the same of driving professionals, and she’ll get a much different grade.

That’s because it’s been a long time since Mortensen has been in an honest-to-goodness fender-bender. Forever, to be exact.

"I haven’t really had an accident with a vehicle. I’ve backed into a couple of trailers," but that’s it, said Mortensen, a 61-year-old Henderson woman who has been driving since she was 16.

Even more surprising is that she’s lived in the Las Vegas Valley for 54 years now — "I’ve been there since Bonanza (Road) was a dirt road," she says — and avoided wrecking in an area with a well-deserved reputation for being a demolition derby as of late.

Her insurer (which recently reported the average driver living in Las Vegas is 26 percent more likely to get into a crash than the typical motorist nationwide, while Henderson-based drivers are about 12 percent more likely) confirms they have no claims by her for at least the past 20 years. And that’s as far back as their tracking goes.

Over two decades, the average Joe or Jane in Anywhereville, U.S.A. would’ve been in two or three bumper-bashings, at least.

"Personally, I think it’s miraculous," Melinda Wilson, a spokeswoman for Allstate Insurance Co., which has covered Mortensen since 1984, said of Mortensen’s clean slate. "And I wonder how and why."

So did I. Earlier this month, I gave Mortensen a call and asked her for her secrets on how she’s stayed street-safe for so long. What does she do?

"Drive fast. No," she laughs. "I don’t know" why wrecks have always been someone else’s problem. But every time she’s behind the wheel, it’s no accident that she uses good old-fashioned common sense, courtesy and care.

"I drive pretty much the speed limit. I’m very cautious and pay attention most of the time. I don’t tailgate at all. I don’t follow real close to cars. I watch two to three car lengths ahead of me. When I get to intersections, I really pay attention.

"I look left and I look right. I don’t want to get hit" by red light-runners and other idiots with four wheels in their control.

"They’re speeding. They’re running red lights," Mortensen said. How often does she see that? "Often. Truly, I do."

So at intersections, she pauses before she goes, just in case other drivers put their trips ahead of others’ lives.

"I don’t know if they’re going to stop. I creep out into the intersection," even when she has a green light. "I hesitate."

It’s not like her safe driving history is because she hides in her home. She’s a semi-retired consultant who drives at least every other day and spends most of the year here. Before that, she was a co-owner of a landscaping business and an executive secretary.

"We go. We’re out all the time," Mortensen said.

In her time on valley streets, she’s seen traffic norms change "a tremendous amount."

"There’s a lot more people. They are sporadic" in driving habits, she said, something that became more pronounced from the late 1980s on, when the valley’s boom began to bloat. "And they drive fast. They’re aggressive drivers.

"There’s so many people today. So many young people. People come up behind you very fast. They’re speeding."

Time has also changed how Mortensen drives.

"I’ve become more conscious," she said. "When you’re young, you don’t pay as much attention. When you’re older, you get more cautious."

The change came around mid-life. "I started becoming aware in my late 40s, really aware," she said.

What triggered that realization wasn’t time behind the wheel. It was time atop horses. She got hurt a couple of times while riding.

"That made me very cautious," Mortensen said.

She’s had her share of close calls when on the go. Like about six months ago, in Henderson.

"One day, a kid was coming up" from behind, Mortensen said. "He was going 90 mph. He was zipping in and out" of traffic, nearly clipping her car. "Real close. Scared me to death. I had that (kind of close call) a couple of times."

Mortensen concedes part of her sterling driving record is attributable to fate.

"It’s all in God’s hands, period. I believe in faith, totally," she said. "But then, He blesses you with brains."

What advice does she have for other drivers?

"Don’t drink. Don’t do drugs. Be cautious. Drive the speed limit," she said.

Is it really that simple?

"It certainly helps," Mortensen said.

She doesn’t mean to be flippant when discouraging driving while drunk or drugged up.

"It’s true," Mortensen said. "You’ve got to have all your faculties. It’s like flying an airplane."

Minus the parachutes.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call the Road Warrior at 387-2904, or e-mail him at or Please include your phone number.

Mount Charleston Gets Heavy Snow, Fog
Mount Charleston saw heavy snow today, and fog in lower elevations as a cold front swept across the Las Vegas Valley. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Krystal Whipple arrested in Arizona
Krystal Whipple, charged in the killing of a Las Vegas nail salon manager over a $35 manicure, is expected to return to Nevada to face a murder charge.
Holocaust survivor on acceptance
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, talks about the most important message for people to understand from her life and experiences.
Holocaust survivor speaks about telling her story
Holocaust survivor Celina Karp Biniaz, who was the youngest person on Schindler’s List, tells of opening up about her experiences during Sunday’s event at Temple Sinai.
Jesus Jara State of the Schools address
Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara delivers his State of the Schools address on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Naft sworn in to Clark County Commission
Michael Naft, chosen by Gov. Steve Sisolak to be his replacement on the Clark County Commission, was sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas police piecing together details of fatal shooting
Six hours after the fact, Las Vegas homicide detectives worked to reconstruct the scene of a shooting early Jan. 7 that left one man dead in the southeast valley. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dyer Lawrence explains college football playoff system proposal
Las Vegan Dyer Lawrence has a new idea for a college football playoff system that includes a unique scheduling component called National Call Out Day. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death row inmate Scott Dozier found dead in his cell
Nevada death row inmate Scott Dozier is dead. Dozier’s death ends his legal odyssey, which began in 2007 when he was convicted in the 2002 murder of Jeremiah Miller, but does little to clarify what’s next for Nevada’s death penalty.
I-15 southbound near Primm closed after ‘major crash’
A rollover crash Saturday morning involving at least nine vehicles on southbound Interstate 15 near Primm caused an hourslong traffic delay. Traffic was backed up to Sloan, live traffic cameras show. (Rio Lacanlale/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Death Valley visitors deal with shutdown
Visitors staying at the Furnace Creek Campground were forced to move from the campground following health and safety concerns due to lack of resources during the partial government shutdown at Death Valley National Park in Calif., on Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Richard Brian Las Vegas Review-Journal @vegasphotograph
Half of homicides in Henderson for 2018 domestic violence related
Lt. Kirk Moore of the public information office of the city of Henderson police department speaks to the Review-Journal in Henderson, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019. Henderson saw a slight increase in homicides in the past year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak stops by Las Vegas Boys and Girls Club
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak kicks off his tour to Carson City, which will take him from Las Vegas, through Tonopah, and up to the capital city. First stop is the Downtown Boys & Girls Club.
Certificates for renewing wedding vows in Clark County
The Marriage License Bureau in Clark County began issuing a Certificate of Vow Renewal to married couples who are renewing their wedding vows on Jan. 3, 2019. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas flu season better than last year (so far)
Dr. Fermin Leguen, chief medical officer and director of clinical services at the Southern Nevada Health District, said there were 24 flu-related deaths at this point in the flu season. No deaths have been reported so far this year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
The Las Vegas Valley’s First Baby of 2019
The first 2019 baby in the Las Vegas Valley was Melialani Chihiro Manning, born at 12:10 a.m. at Henderson Hospital. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Snow in Henderson on New Year's Eve morning
Light snow flurries in Anthem Highlands in Henderson on Monday morning, the last day of 2018.
Sources: Henderson Constable may face more charges
Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell may face additional charges ... stemming from his spending of county funds, sources said. Mitchell was indicted earlier this month on five felony theft and fraud charges ... after a Las Vegas Review-Journal story questioned his spending. But grand jury records show even more extensive spending including ... an $800 dinner at steakhouse ... nearly 200 atm withdrawals mostly at gambling establishments ... and even Disneyland tickets. But his attorney plans to ask a judge to dismiss the charges.
Las Vegas NYE Restrictions and Enhanced Security
If you are planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip or Fremont Street, be aware that you are not allowed to bring backpacks, coolers, strollers or glass. There will also be an increase in security to ensure safe celebrations across town.
Catholic Charities serves up 53rd annual Christmas dinner
Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada and more than 100 volunteers served 1,000 Christmas meals to Southern Nevada's homeless and less fortunate. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @kmcannonphoto)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jeffrey Martin Added To Nevada's Black Book
Martin was one of four men convicted of theft and cheating at gambling in 2016 in Clark County District Court and sentenced to prison. The Nevada Gaming Commission voted unanimously Thursday to include Martin in the black book.
Raiders Stadium Timelapse
Construction on the new Raiders stadium continues in Las Vegas.
Buffalo Wild Wings security video
Security footage from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in southwest Las Vegas captured a driver who repeatedly crashed into a vehicle in a failed attempt to squeeze into a tight parking spot.
The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village
Opportunity Village's Magical Forest added 1 million lights and a synchronized music show visible from all over the forest this year. The holiday attraction, which began in 1991, has a train, rides, food and entertainment along with the light displays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Navigating the new I-515 southbound to 215 Beltway ramp configuration
After opening at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, the new Interstate 515 southbound to the 215 Beltway westbound freeway ramp configuration caused confusion amongst motorist. Here’s how to navigate the new ramp. (Mick Akers/ Las Vegas Review-Journal).
A record breaking donation of nearly $9 million to Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada
A record breaking donation of property valued at nearly $9 million was made to the Girls Scouts of Southern Nevada by the Charles and Phyllis M. Frias Charitable Trust. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal. @bizutesfaye
Kerry Clasby thanks the community for support after California fire damage
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about the lessons of accepting help as she has gone through the Woolsey Fire disaster, in which she lost many of her belongings. About 100 people were on hand for an event that raised about $7,000.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like