Hang Up the Phone

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me right now?’” The Nevada Highway Patrolman, whom we’ll refer to as Officer Justice, was standing at an accident scene redirecting traffic. One in three drivers were using their cellphones as they inched by.

“I held my hands up and looked at them like, ‘What are you doing?’” Justice says. “And they just shrugged. It’s a learning curve.”

The state law prohibiting use of cellphones without a hands-free device is three months old, but suffice to say the public hasn’t embraced it yet. Still, Justice is optimistic.

“It’s like the seat-belt law. It took awhile, but most people get it now. We just want to educate everybody, because this is an accident-causing violation.” The first ticket for driving while using a cellphone costs $50 but does not count as a moving violation. The second and third citations are $150 and $250, respectively, and come with moving-violation points that will cause insurance rates to increase.

Although the highway patrol doesn’t yet keep stats on the exact number of cellphone citations issued, Justice says, “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”

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