The Nevada Highway Patrol along with law enforcement from West Wendover, Elko and White Pine County will join forces this weekend to monitor the thousands of NASCAR fans driving to Las Vegas to watch the races.
The week’s special enforcement began Wednesday and will end with two major races. The NASCAR National Series Sam’s Town 300 will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, followed by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400 beginning at noon Sunday.
Too often, someone dies or is seriously hurt because they were driving too fast anticipating their arrival to the events, according to NHP Trooper Jim Stewart.
“Leave speed at the track,” Stewart said. “There’s quite a bit of traffic that comes through this area from up north. We just want to slow people down. They have the urge to go fast through this area.”
Law enforcement, allowed by state statute to work across jurisdictions, will jointly patrol U.S. 93 and State Route 318 to reduce accidents and enforce traffic violations.
Officers will target speeders, those who follow too close, pass on a double line and fail to maintain a travel lane, among other violations.
The Reno, Sparks and Carson City region will not focus on NASCAR travelers per se, NHP spokesman Chuck Allen said, but troopers are always patrolling for speeders and distracted drivers, he said.
“Speeding is one of the many things we look for,” Allen said. “We want to reduce speeding and we want people to focus on the road.”
Northern Nevada law enforcement officers are still seeing drivers toying with cell phones while driving, Allen reported. Since cell phone use while driving became restricted to hands-free on Jan. 1, many citations have been issued. In January, NHP cited 337 drivers for cell phone use while driving.
Out-of-state drivers who might be unfamiliar with Nevada law need to be particularly aware of the change. The Joining Forces campaign, funded by the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, is conducted every year.
High winds and fatigue are other problems drivers have when traveling though the rural areas of Nevada, where speed limits can tend to be higher and the roads longer and lonelier.
“Be aware of your surroundings. Watch your speeds and road conditions when driving to and from the NASCAR races,” Stewart said. “Driver distractions are major causes of crashes, and in rural Nevada we find many motorists falling asleep while behind the wheel.”