weather icon Partly Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Law clear on running red lights

This week, readers want to know how the law defines running a red light and what the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles will do when it runs through license plates that begin with "Z." And the Road Warrior offers a special Spook ‘n’ Boo version of Hit ‘n’ Run in preparation for Friday’s scare-fest.

Michael Tymchak asks: How does the law define running a red light? We all know that when one is driving down the road at 50 to 60 mph and the light changes from green to yellow, the driver has to make a split-second decision on whether to try to stop or whether to go ahead through the yellow light before it turns red. A clear explanation on how the law defines this dilemma would assist many drivers, including myself, to obey the law.

The prevailing law is Nevada Revised Statute 484.283. (In case you’re wondering, the statute contains more than 1,100 words, which is pretty lengthy for a traffic law.)

Section 6 states that when a steady yellow signal comes on, drivers are warned that a red stop signal is coming and "vehicular traffic must not enter the intersection when the red signal is exhibited."

In other words, the yellow light is warning drivers to slow down and try to stop in anticipation of the red light.

We all know that isn’t always possible considering vehicle speed and the distance to the signal. For instance, a driver going 50 mph who is 50 feet away from an intersection when the light turns yellow would never be able to stop before entering the intersection.

In most other cases, drivers should make the prudent choice and slow down and come to a stop once the signal turns yellow.

Section 7 states that when the signal is red, "vehicular traffic facing the signal must stop before entering the crosswalk." If a driver enters an intersection after the signal has turned red, the driver is guilty of running a red light.

By the way, I can’t think of a single road controlled by a traffic light in Clark County that has a speed limit of 60 mph (the areas on the Las Vegas Beltway controlled by traffic lights have a speed limit of 55 mph). If you know of one, please e-mail me.

Audrey asks: What will the Department of Motor Vehicles do when they run through license plates that begin with "Z"?

They will change the scheme, said Tom Jacobs, agency spokesman.

The scheme he is referring to is the order in which the letters and numbers are printed on the plate.

The current scheme on Nevada license plates, required by state law, is three letters followed by three numbers, or AAA-111.

Jacobs said the new scheme could be alternating letters and numbers, for example: A1A-1A1 or AA1-11A.

"We’re examining several different options," he said.

A new scheme won’t be needed for a couple of years, Jacobs said: "We’re not close, but we’re close enough to start examining new" combinations.

He added that the Legislature updated state law during the 2007 session to allow the DMV flexibility in the different combinations of letters and numbers used for license plates.


Trick or treaters will be out in force this Halloween Friday. That means ghosts, ghouls and witches on flying broomsticks can be expected to be darting across our roadways hunting for candy. Here are some safe-driving tips from Progressive.com for the holiday:

Don’t use a cell phone or allow other distractions while driving through neighborhoods. Distractions could lead to tragedy.

Pay extra attention to the side of the road while driving.

Stay below the posted speed limit during trick-or-treating hours.

Do not pass vehicles that have stopped in the road; they could be dropping off children.

Be alert when driving through intersections.

Never assume a pedestrian approaching the roadway will yield. Children might not see your vehicle or might not be familiar with crossing roadways.

Give children flashlights and glow sticks, or use reflective tape on their costumes.

Instruct children to look both ways before crossing the road and to cross only at corners or crosswalks.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Francis McCabe at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@ reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.