Las Vegas drivers need to put smartphones down, experts say

As smartphones become an essential part of most people’s lives, the devices are causing motorists to make some not-so-smart decisions behind the wheel, experts say.

People are finding it tough to put down their phones at any time during the day, including while behind the wheel.

Although it’s not as easy to track distracted driving crashes, especially fatal occurrences, as the driver has to admit to using a smart device while driving, safety officials insist it is a concern and urge valley drivers to put the phone down and pay attention to the road.

“Out of all the data we have, distracted driving data is the one that’s lacking,” said Andrew Bennett, Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

In 2017 there were 311 fatalities on Nevada roadways, with 15 of those attributed to distracted driving, Bennett said.

“When you hear that, you might think that’s a low number, but all 15 of those are 100 percent preventable,” he said. “Each one of those 15 lives could have been saved by someone simply putting their phone down at the time they were driving.”

Surprisingly, the most common demographic to use their phones while driving are adults, not teens, which is likely due to them being used to using their phones while driving before the practice was banned.

“At one point it was legal to use your phone while driving,” Bennett said. “The older demographic had to change their behavior after being told they can’t do that now. Whereas with the teens, it’s always been illegal to text while driving. If a teenager gets their license tomorrow, there’s never going to be a time in their life where it’s legal to use a phone while driving.”

Smartphone app makers utilize a “variable ratio method” to induce people to look at their devices, said James J. Durbin, an addiction psychologist at Pathways Therapy and Wellness Center.

The method, which is similar to that used for slot machines, provides reinforcement on an unpredictable basis, he said.

“The reinforcement schedule creates a high steady rate of responding,” Durbin said. “Gambling is a good example of the variable ratio schedule.”

Critical aspects that get users hooked to their electronic device include playing smartphone games that offer rewards to players who reach certain milestones, the act of swiping on an app and the fear that people could be missing out on something, which will encourage them to check their phone more often.

Another factor is push notifications that many apps and messaging services incorporate in their programs.

“Getting that notification, whether it’s on the screen or a sound, will release some dopamine into the brain,” Durbin said. “It makes you feel good. It’s another way these smartphone and apps get you hooked.”

The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction has an online screening test that can determine whether a person might have an unhealthy relationship with their smartphone.

“It can help you be aware if your phone is problematic for you,” Durbin said. “Then you can set some boundaries and limits to your use, which rolls into impulse control.”

To help curb phone use while driving, Durbin offered some tips that are good advice for those who rarely check their phone as well as those who can’t put their device down: Put your electronic device in the back seat, where it can stay out of your reach. Put your smartphone in a backpack or purse. Put your smartphone in do-not-disturb mode.

Lock your phone in your trunk, to curb those who know they’ll likely check it, no matter where the phone is in the car.

Motorists can also opt to use wireless connection to answer phone calls and text via their voice.

Although that is a much safer route than handling a smartphone while driving, Bennett said he’d discourage the use, as it still causes some level of distraction.

“Put the phone down. When you’re traveling from point A to point B that’s the most important thing you’re going to do all day and anything else can wait,” he said. “If a call or a text is that important, pull off the road at the next exit, pull into a parking lot, just don’t drive.”

I-15 closure canceled

Next week’s planned closure of Interstate 15 between Flamingo and Spring Mountain roads has been canceled, the Nevada Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The closure was scheduled to install Active Traffic Management signs as part of Project Neon, a nearly $1 billion four-mile-long widening of I-15 from the U.S. Highway 95 interchange to Sahara Avenue that began in 2016.

A total of 42 ATM signs are scheduled to go up along I-15 as part of Project Neon.

A new overnight closure date to carry out the work will be set later.

Questions and comments should be sent to Please include your phone number. Follow @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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