Driving is certainly one of the best and most convenient ways to get around Las Vegas, but the experience can be stressful if you are not prepared. You might wonder what you can do to make sure your driving experience is a truly positive one or how can you stay safe while you’re out on the road?
We’ve compiled ten tips to help you stay safe on the road. Of course, there’s no substitute for careful driving in a reliable automobile, but these ten suggestions can provide the assistance you need to get more out of your driving experience here in Las Vegas.
Really Get to Know the Law in Las Vegas
It goes without saying that you need to obey the laws and rules of the road, but it’s still worth taking time to check up on the legal requirements of driving in Las Vegas. Just because you have driven a vehicle without a problem elsewhere in the country — or even just elsewhere in the State of Nevada — does not mean that the same rules apply here.
The following are some widely applicable laws that you might find helpful:
- Wear a seatbelt. This is common sense and is also the law in Nevada. Failure to wear a seatbelt can result in fines, criminal charges, injuries if you are in an accident, and escalating penalties.
- Check your window tint. The front side windows of the vehicle must allow more than 35% of light in. There are no restrictions on the level of tint to the back side or rear windows. Improperly dark tinting on your front side windows can result in ticket fines.
- Put your young kids in car seats. Under NRS 484.157, starting January 1, 2023, children less than 6 years old and less than 57 inches tall must be in a car seat. Children under the age of 2 must be in a rear-facing car seat. The safest place for a car seat in your vehicle is the middle seat of one of the rear rows.
- Check your license plates. Nevada law requires most vehicle to display both front and rear license plates, unless 1) the vehicle was not designed for a front plate, or 2) the manufacturer did not provide an add-on bracket or other means of displaying a front plate. See NRS 482.275. Motorcycles and trailers only require a rear plate.
- Put your phone away. Under NRS 484B.165, using your hands to text someone or use your phone while operating a motor vehicle is illegal. This includes using your phone while stopped at a stop light – if the car is running and you are on a Nevada road, the law applies. Hands-free texting or calling with your voice is ok.
Avoid Impaired Driving, Even Within Legal Limits
You should never drive drunk or otherwise intoxicated — you likely already know how dangerous this can be to you, your passengers, and others on the road. In Nevada, the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers aged 21 and older is 0.08%, and the legal limit for drivers under 21 is 0.02%. For marijuana, the legal blood limit is 2 nanograms per milliliter for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and 5 nanograms per milliliter for 11-OH- tetrahydrocannabinol. However, you can still be charged with a DUI even below these limits if there is evidence your driving is impaired.
It can be very difficult for individuals to perceive their own level of intoxication, and the consequences of driving under the influence can be life-changing in a bad way. Driving under the influence can result in death or serious injury if you’re involved in an accident. DUI charges can jeopardize your job, your driver’s license and even your personal freedoms. The smart thing to do is to avoid operating a motor vehicle altogether if you have recently consumed alcohol or drugs, or if there is any question about your sobriety. Call a friend or a rideshare instead.
Plan Your Rush Hour Journey With Great Care
No one likes being stuck in traffic, but this is exactly what is going to happen if you venture out into Las Vegas around rush hour without doing a bit of research first. Las Vegas rush hour is similar to other major cities across the United States. Rush hour typically happens between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., when people are going to work, and from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., when people are driving home from work. These peak hours are when you can expect serious delays in many locations across the city and the surrounding area.
Rush hour doesn’t necessarily mean you need to avoid driving at certain times of the day. It just means you need to plan your route. Las Vegas is a well-developed city with alternative roads on a grid system that are organized in such a way as to help people get around, avoiding many of the most congested areas across the region. Use apps and tools like Google Maps or Waze to plan your journey — these solutions will show you where is likely to be congested in real-time, so you can simply take a different route to reach your destination.
Understand Where You Are Going to Fill Up or Charge
Even if you’ve never been to Vegas before, you’ve probably heard of the Strip. The thing is, so has everyone else. The Strip is one of the most popular and busiest areas in the city, which will be reflected in pricing at the gas stations near the Strip. Expect to pay a bit more per gallon at a gas station on or near the Strip than you would in other areas of Las Vegas — something that can add quite a bit of cost to your trip if you need to fill up several times.
If you have an electric vehicle, you might also find it difficult to locate an available charging point near the Strip. Some Strip resorts offer dedicated parking spaces and charging for electric vehicles that you might be able to use, but you shouldn’t count on it. Don’t wait until you are in need of a charge to plan how you are going to charge. Do the research beforehand to plan your charging stops and times in advance. Electric vehicle charging is still in its infancy in Las Vegas with limited available charging locations, so if you fail to plan, you may get stuck.
Technology is your friend when it comes to filling up your tank with gas or electricity. Apps and software solutions can help you find the nearest place to fill up or charge your vehicle and can give you useful information about prices and queues in real-time. Save yourself time and money by using one of these solutions when you travel around Las Vegas.
Have a Plan of Action if Something Goes Wrong
In an ideal world, your trip will go without a hitch. You’ll be able to drive around Las Vegas with ease, and you won’t have to worry about breaking down, having an accident, or anything else. While this is likely to be the case most of the time, there are still risks involved when you drive, and you need to work to minimize these risks as much as possible. To achieve this, plan what you will do if something does go wrong.
There are plenty of towing companies around Las Vegas, and many garages will have trucks they can send out to you if you find yourself in need. The truck will take your vehicle straight to the shop, where it can be repaired and put back on the road. While this is reassuring, the cost of some of these services is less so. Plan ahead, shop around, and find yourself a towing company or repair shop you can rely on — someone who can deliver a great service and get you back on the road without overcharging you. You’ve got plenty of choices in Las Vegas and elsewhere in Nevada, so make that choice work for you.
Drive Defensively Whenever Possible
Whether you’re new to the city or you’ve been driving in Las Vegas for many years, it’s obviously a good idea to avoid accidents wherever possible. Unfortunately, other drivers may not have gotten this memo. Drivers ignoring stop signs and blowing through red lights to avoid waiting seems to be becoming a more common occurrence. As traffic gets worse with the increasing population, the number of dangerously aggressive drivers on the roads in Las Vegas also seems to be increasing. This is why it’s so vital to drive defensively as you navigate your way around the city and the surrounding area.
What does it mean to drive defensively? It means keeping a proper distance from vehicles in front of you, yielding to traffic that has the right of way, making yourself visible to all other drivers at all times (with fully operational headlamps, brake lights, and turn signals), watching your speed, obeying traffic control devices, and staying vigilant. Basically, give yourself time and space to get out of danger if another driver suddenly swerves in front of you or performs an emergency stop. Wait for intersections to completely clear before proceeding on a green light. Driving offensively is not going to save you much time on your journey. However, driving defensively in Las Vegas may save you the time, expense, stress and inconvenience of an accident that could have been avoided.
Focus on the Road, Leave Other Tasks for Later
A golden rule of driving in Las Vegas, or anywhere else for that matter, is to always, always, always focus on the road. If you need to use your cellphone, make sure it’s in a hands-free cradle and use voice commands to operate the device. Never pick your phone up or look at the screen while you’re driving. Not only is this dangerous, it is illegal and can get you in trouble.
When driving, all other tasks can wait. Don’t try to do multiple things at once — for example, pull over safely to the side of the road if you need to reach back and comfort a crying child or grab your handbag. It’s also a good idea to think critically about the road ahead of you and about the actions of other drivers. We often hear the advice “keep your eyes on the road”, but in fact, we need to do more than this — keep your mind on the road too so that you are fully engaged and ready to act if needed.
Make Sure You’re Fully Insured
In Nevada, you need to have 25/50/20 motor vehicle insurance policy limits as an absolute minimum. This means insurance will pay up to $25,000 for medical treatment per injured third party, up to a total of $50,000 per accident if there is more than one injured party, along with $20,000 in coverage for property damage. Again, this is a minimum — it’s advisable to have more comprehensive insurance when you’re driving in Las Vegas to protect yourself from a whole host of other potential issues. We also highly recommend purchasing uninsured and underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage, which will help protect you if another driver injures you in an accident and does not have sufficient insurance coverage to pay for your medical treatment.
If your budget can’t stretch to more comprehensive insurance coverage, then minimum coverage will have to suffice. Just remember — operating a vehicle without 25/50/20 insurance policy limits is illegal in Las Vegas. You could find yourself facing a criminal charge and court date if you are found to be driving without this minimum coverage, even if you have not been involved in an accident.
Be Cautious When It Comes to Speed
Most of the time when you are operating a motor vehicle, you will be subject to a speed limit. This is a universal reality, whether you are driving in Las Vegas, Reno, or somewhere out of state. The freeway speed limit in some parts of Nevada can be as high as 80 mph. In Las Vegas, most of the local freeways have a speed limit of 65 mph, with freeway traffic often flowing slightly faster than the speed limit. Be sure to watch your speed and always comply with local speed limits. If you have hands-free access to a navigation app like Google Maps or Waze, the speed limit will often be clearly readable within the app during navigation. If you don’t know the speed limit, it doesn’t hurt to slow down until you see the next speed limit sign.
Invest in a Dash Camera
This bit of advice comes from legal and personal experience. When car accidents happen, how the accident happened is essential for determining who is at fault and whose insurance pays for the damages. The ability to clearly show how an accident happened can make a night-and-day difference in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Accidents happen fast. Sometimes the other vehicle drives away without stopping. Sometimes there are either no witnesses to the accident or the witness accounts of what happened conflict with each other. People are often bad a remembering the details of an accident. Memories shift. People can be dishonest and deliberately spin their accounts of an accident to avoid liability and the related insurance premium increases. Accident reconstruction done after an accident isn’t perfect. The only surefire way to prove what happened sometimes is to have the accident ON VIDEO.
Dash cams are small video cameras that record what is happened outside your front and/or back windshield. They typically cost anywhere from $50 – $150 or more, depending on the features and the quality of the camera. They usually allow you to immediately save the video recording following an accident. Nicer dash cams can have wireless data transfer, night vision, speed detection, force detection, automatic save functions, and other bells and whistles.
We cannot overstate how valuable dash cam footage can be after an accident. Most of the personal injury lawsuits we handle do not have dash cam footage, as when such footage exists, it often leaves little room for argument as to liability or the severity of a crash. Investing in a dash cam will help protect you if you are in an accident and can substantially simplify the insurance and legal proceedings that follow.
Need Assistance? Call Upon Bay Law Injury
Bay Law Accident Attorneys provides professional legal services to drivers and other individuals in and around the Las Vegas, Nevada area. If you’re in need of legal guidance or support relating to a motor vehicle accident, reach out to Bay Law today.