It has now been one year since the Nevada Highway Patrol began enforcing fines for Nevada's 2011 cell phone law. How many tickets did they hand out to Nevadans who used cell phones while driving in 2012? As of December 26th, the official number was 11,992. High, yet some people will say that's still not enough. Trooper Chuck Allen told us, "Well that's a thousand a month, and when you look at those numbers, that's a lot of activity for only one traffic violation."
And after 11,992, Trooper Chuck is still looking for more drivers who are yakking while driving. As we rode along with him, we noticed he spent more time searching for offenders at intersections. He told us, "We see more people with their hands on their phone sitting at a stoplight."
And on this ride along, it didn't take us long to catch someone in the act. Allen pointed to a driver talking on his phone while waiting for the light to change on Greg Street, telling us, "See what people do? Like this guy's on his phone right here...see? See him?" The driver looked back, gave Trooper Chuck a sheepish grin and hung up the phone.
Allen knows that cell phones are here to stay, but doesn't understand why so many Nevadans don't own and use a hands free device. To demonstrate how easy it is, we conducted our interview via the Bluetooth speaker attached to his sun visor.
Trooper Chuck: "Hi John, good morning."
John: "When you ask these drivers why don't they use a hands free device, what do they say?"
Trooper Chuck: "Well some will say that they already have it, but the batteries are dead. I've heard that excuse quite a bit."
If you've been resisting getting one of those hands-free devices, you should see the new technology. Now they have double the range on some of these ear devices, up around 300 ft. You can pull up, go get a sandwich or fill up your gas tank while on the phone. At the T-Mobile store in Meadowood Mall, salesman Miguel Rodriguez told us, "Because of the technology nowadays, they're enhancing like crazy. Just like cellphones. A lot of it comes with the new cars. They come with all the electronics and Bluetooth already."
How did Miguel become such an expert? He learned the hard way. "I got pulled over here while driving home. I was just checking my text message." Today, he shows others the new devices that read texts into your ear, and let you respond through voice recognition. "You can download the free applications, and basically you can just say whatever you want and it will text through your phone."
Miguel...and Trooper Chuck both hope, 2013 is the year Nevadans go from hands on...to hands off.