Nevada drivers might want to double-check their insurance, because changes are coming in about two weeks.
The threshold for minimum liability coverage goes up July 1 under a law approved during last year’s legislative session.
New minimums require motorists to carry $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident, plus $20,000 for property damage coverage per accident, officials with the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles said.
That’s a significant jump from the current requirement of $15,000, $30,000 and $10,000, respectively — currently ranked as the second-lowest in the United States, DMV officials said.
“The costs of medical care and automobile repairs have gone up significantly,” Nevada DMV Director Terri Albertson said. “The cost of a crash can easily exceed these older minimums.”
About 32 percent of Nevada’s 2.3 million licensed drivers carried the minimum coverage as of last year, including the Road Warrior.
Most drivers were notified about the need for increased coverage during their most recent policy renewals. And like many of you, the Road Warrior made the required adjustments to his policy last month.
Depending on your driving record and insurance company, the change in rates could range from $10 to $50. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to write the lower limits; those that do could be sanctioned, DMV spokesman Kevin Malone said.
Scofflaw drivers failing to purchase auto liability insurance at the new minimum limits could be cited and fined and have their vehicle registration canceled until the appropriate coverage is purchased, according to the Nevada Division of Insurance website.
Blue Diamond blues
Andrew from Las Vegas said he’s tired of the constant traffic congestion during the morning and evening rush hours along Blue Diamond Road in the southwest valley.
“There are plenty of funds available for more exits off Interstate 15, so why can’t we get another long, continuous through road that runs east-west like Blue Diamond?” Andrew asked in an email to the Road Warrior.
It turns out that Blue Diamond has far less traffic and fewer backups than most major east-west roads in Clark County, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Blue Diamond was originally a two-lane highway that cut through a sparse patch of desert, but it has dramatically changed because of four decades worth of population growth and development. NDOT has since spent “hundreds of millions” of dollars upgrading Blue Diamond, Illia said.
As for building more interstate exits, Illia said NDOT engineers tend to be pretty selective because too many exits in a small space can actually increase traffic congestion by adding too many “merge and weave” movements.
However, some relief is on the way in the southwest. By next summer, a $34 million interchange will open at I-15 and Starr Avenue, connecting the east-west street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Dean Martin Drive.
Engine braking allowed
Tim from Las Vegas said he’s noticed engine brakes being frequently used by drivers of heavy trucks, and he wanted to know whether the practice is legal.
Trooper Jason Buratczuk of the Nevada Highway Patrol said that engine braking is allowed unless there is a posted sign that specifically states it is prohibited in a certain area. Most times, Buratczuk said, that would happen only where freeway onramps and offramps are near residential neighborhoods.
Signal timing fixed
Thomas from Las Vegas noticed that the signal timing had changed for the worse since road construction started at Tropicana Avenue and Lindell Road, where the traffic detection loop was temporarily removed. The preprogrammed sequence appears to favor Lindell with more “green time” than usual, leading to heavy traffic on Tropicana.
Clark County spokesman Dan Kulin said your letter prompted crews to temporarily adjust the signal timing at this southwest valley intersection. The timing will be fully restored by the time construction finishes in the next few weeks.
No improvements here
Eileen from Las Vegas wanted to know whether county officials plan to relieve the traffic congestion at Fort Apache Road and Wigwam Avenue in the southwest valley.
Kulin, the county spokesman, said there are no current plans to make any changes, but the intersection will be studied by fall to determine if upgrades are warranted.
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Road work ahead
— Charleston Boulevard will be closed in both directions at Interstate 15 from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday, and again from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday. Crews will build a bridge.
— The D Street onramp to southbound Interstate 15 is closed through mid-July. Crews are working on Project Neon.
— Sections of Bonneville Avenue, Charleston Boulevard, Grand Central Parkway and Martin Luther King Boulevard will have closed or disrupted lanes surrounding the Spaghetti Bowl as crews work on Project Neon through July.
— Ogden Avenue will be restricted between Main Street and City Parkway through mid-October. Crews are making street, sidewalk and lighting improvements.
— The Charleston Boulevard onramps to southbound Interstate 15 are closed until mid-October. Crews are rebuilding the intersection.
— Interstate 15 will be narrowed in both directions between Sahara Avenue and D Street until Nov. 20. Crews are widening the freeway.
— The ramp connecting southbound U.S. Highway 95 to southbound I-15 will be reduced to one lane and detoured through Nov. 20. Crews are widening I-15.
— The ramp linking southbound U.S. 95 to northbound I-15 is closed through Nov. 20. Crews are widening I-15.
— The Martin Luther King Boulevard onramp to southbound U.S. Highway 95 is closed until early 2019. Crews are building a high-occupancy flyover ramp.
— Gass Avenue will be restricted between Las Vegas and Charleston Boulevards through March 2019. Crews are making pedestrians and bicycle improvements.
— The eastbound Durango Drive onramp to southbound U.S. Highway 95 is closed until 5 a.m. June 25. Crews are working on a storm drain.
— Both directions of U.S. Highway 95 are narrowed to a single lane between Skye Canyon Park and Paiute drives through July 12. Crews are building a new interchange bridge.
— Buffalo Drive is restricted between Gowan Road and Cheyenne Avenue through July. Crews are upgrading a gas line.
— Tenaya Way and Torrey Pines Drive are restricted between Gowan and Craig roads through July. Crews are upgrading a gas line.
— Gowan Road is restricted between Buffalo and Torrey Pines drives through July. Crews are upgrading a gas line.
— Craig Road is restricted between Torrey Pines Drive and Decatur Boulevard through July. Crews are upgrading a gas line.
— Both directions of U.S. Highway 95 will be narrowed to two lanes at Elkhorn Road through December. Crews are building a new carpool ramp.
— Jones Boulevard will be restricted between Tropicana and University avenues through June 29. Crews are doing sewer work.
North Las Vegas
— U.S. Highway 93 is restricted between Interstate 15 and Apex Power Parkway through June. Crews are widening the highway and upgrading an interchange.
— Nellis Boulevard is restricted between Cheyenne Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays through July. Crews are installing sewer pipes.
— Center Street is restricted between Burkholder Boulevard and Lake Mead Parkway through June. Crews are making various road improvements.
— Stephanie Street will be restricted between the 215 Beltway and Cielo Abierto Way through October. Crews are repaving the road and making other improvements.
The average gasoline price Friday in the Las Vegas Valley was $3.28 per gallon. It was $3.31 in Nevada. The national average of $2.90 is down 3 cents from a week ago, up 1 cent from a month ago and up 60 cents from a year ago.