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May 28, 2015

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Survey respondents credit new law for cutting use of cell phones while driving

Nevada drivers are putting down their cell phones and focusing on the road more, thanks in part to a ban on texting or talking on the phone while driving instituted in 2011, according to a study released Friday by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety.

About a fourth of drivers surveyed said they talked on the phone while driving, and another 13 percent said they sent text messages or emails while driving.

About 26 percent of drivers said they drove while distracted – which included using a cell phone, eating or adjusting controls in the car – less often. Nearly half of those respondents credited the decrease to the new law, which bans the use of cell phones while driving.

The study, conducted by UNR’s Center for Research Design and Analysis, surveyed more than 800 people between March and July. Each respondent was asked to answer nine questions on driving habits, ranging from how often they speed to how often they wear a seatbelt.

The survey showed a 7 percent increase in seatbelt usage, with nine of 10 drivers reporting they always use a seatbelt.

Drivers reported speeding less on the highway compared to a year ago, but more drivers said they regularly exceeded the speed limit by at least 5 mph.

According to the Office of Traffic Safety, the survey was meant to collect data on driving habits to help when considering law or policy changes or when designing new public awareness campaigns.

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