NHP issues nearly 12,000 citations for cell phone use - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

NHP issues nearly 12,000 citations for cell phone use

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Nevada drivers who don't put down their cell phone while driving are paying a big price. Nevada Highway Patrol handed out nearly 12,000 tickets in the first year of the hands-free law.

The statistics, released by NHP Wednesday, account for citations issued by the agency statewide in 2012.

"We were still seeing individuals out there that had the temptation when the phone rang or they got the beep from a text, they still wanted to pick it up, look at it and even respond," said NHP Trooper Loy Hixson.

A state law banning handheld cell phone usage went into effect Jan. 1, 2012, as an attempt to reduce the number of deadly crashes.

Hixson said he catches violators almost every day. In fact, he saw three drivers using a cell phone while on the way to an interview with FOX5.

"That was probably one of the biggest concerns, because you look at those who are totally disregarding this law," Hixson said.

Among the statistics, 30 drivers were ticketed twice for violating the law, and 25 people racked up three offenses - all in one year.

"I thought it would be a little bit more. I honestly did," said Brian Lavoie, who has been on a campaign to stop distracted driving ever since his 18-year-old daughter, Hillary, was killed in a crash in September 2010.

Lavoie has been to Carson City to push for the current legislation and plans to visit lawmakers again during the next legislative session.

"I don't think any driver in Las Vegas can go anywhere without seeing someone on their cell phone," he said.

Hixson said some drivers think they can use a cell phone while stopped at a traffic light, but that is not true. The cell phone law applies to any time the vehicle is not parked.

"I think that the groups like MADD and Stop DUI have done such a good job with the drinking and driving, that that's become taboo, and we have to create the same thing with the cell phone usage," said Lavoie.

Fines for violating the cell phone law start at $112 for the first offense. A second offense will cost the driver $192 and $352 for a third.

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