Nevada a haven for chatty drivers

This week, readers want to know who’s cool with drivers chattering away on their cellular phones, and whether "HC" might stand for "high-rollin’ casino."

And the Road Warrior hears about a good thing happening at a bad time.

Peter Doyle asks: Who’s behind not banning using cell phones while driving? And how many states now ban the use?

Try blaming the state Legislature. There was only one bill proposing cell phone driving restrictions introduced this year in Carson City, and it was rather modest in scope. Assemblyman Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, called for a ban on drivers under 18 years of age from using a cell phone while driving, except in emergencies.

But that bill failed to gain enough support from the Assembly’s Transportation Committee before a deadline and died. Other such bills won’t be considered before the 2009 Legislature, if at all.

The Nevada Legislature hasn’t been interested in imposing restrictions on chatting in the car. In fact, the state’s most notable law regarding cell phone restrictions actually restricts some restrictions.

Four years ago, the Legislature banned local governments from regulating the use of cell phones, satellite phones or any other type of portable electronic communication devices in cars, according to cellular-news.com, meaning the city of Las Vegas or Clark County couldn’t institute local restrictions if they wanted to. And a statewide ban was rejected in 1999.

Nevada is one of 10 states restricting restrictions, joining Utah and Oregon, among others. Nevada has no other significant legal prohibitions on cell phone use while driving.

Three states — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — and the District of Columbia ban all drivers from using hand-held phones. A ban in California takes effect in July 2008. And New Mexico bans hand-held phones in state vehicles, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, a coalition of state highway safety offices.

Fifteen states (including New Mexico) restrict the use of cell phones by novice drivers. School bus drivers in 12 states (including Arizona) can’t use cell phones when passengers are present, except in emergencies, the GHSA said.

In Utah, drivers who commit a traffic violation while holding a cell phone can be charged with "careless driving." Oregon, like Nevada, has no other general prohibitions on cell phone use by drivers.

Countries that ban or restrict hand-held cell phone use by drivers include Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Ireland, Greece, Sweden, Singapore and Taiwan, among others, according to the GHSA.

Ron Oliver asks: On westbound Desert Inn Road west of Paradise Road, there is a traffic sign prohibiting HC’s from using the road. I have no idea what that could possibly mean. The sign has been there for many years. Can you find out what a HC is, and why HC’s can’t use that road? For all I know I could be a HC, and don’t even know it.

I’m sure Ron isn’t carrying any HC because you’d have to know what HC is to be licensed to carry HC in this state, FYI.

"HC" stands for hazardous cargo, and signs with a slash through "HC" mean that hazardous cargo is not allowed on that road. Such cargo is formally defined by federal authorities and can include toxic chemicals, volatile gases and radioactive materials, among other such items.

In the Las Vegas Valley, such cargo is formally banned from the super-arterial stretch of Desert Inn between Paradise and Swenson Street underneath Las Vegas Boulevard, and in the airport connector tunnel, where a crash would release such substances in a confined space.

Hit ‘n Run: There’s a time to clean a street, and there’s a time to let the traffic flow. Putting both together leads to a bad time for all, according to the findings of the Road Warrior’s new Summerlin correspondent of the moment, Mike Costello. Take it away, Mike:

I’m heading west on Charleston Boulevard just past Buffalo Drive. Traffic is slowing down and clogging up. We had a street sweeper in the right-hand lane sweeping the street at 11 o’clock on a busy Tuesday daytime. Can’t they arrange the schedule so it can happen late at night? Maybe they don’t work at night. It was curious when you add to the chaos we see on the streets.

Don’t knock it. If there’s no chaos on the streets, I’ve got nuthin’ to write about.

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

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