Reno and Sparks police departments joined the Washoe County Sheriff's Office and Nevada Highway Patrol when patrolling began Monday morning. According to NHP Public Information Officer Trooper Chuck Allen, officers were looking primarily for people using their cell phones while driving, but also issued citations for running red lights, bicycle infractions and pedestrian safety violations.
Allen said the operation was similar to one in Reno two weeks ago where plain-clothes officers on the street signaled which drivers were committing violations and gave their direction to vehicle-equipped officers. Allen said the Reno awareness operation saw 218 stops, 124 of them for drivers on a cell phone.
“Part of what we wanted to do is pre-announce our activity to remind people of the dangers of the various facets involved in operating a motor vehicle,” Allen said Monday. “The whole campaign is designed to show the importance of limiting distractions and following road safety.”
The Joining Forces event also aimed to highlight Distracted Driving Month, an awareness campaign raising awareness on the dangers of distracted driving. Allen said enforcement of the distracted driving, or ‘cell phone law,’ will be heightened throughout the month of April.
The collaborative efforts among the four law enforcement agencies is key to a successful Joining Forces program, Allen said. He added that coordinators from each agency meet often to discuss ideas for awareness in the community and to plan inter-agency operations.
“The team effort works out really well,” Allen said. “We all work really well together and we are always teaming up for different things. We are doing intersections today. Next month we will team up for the Click It or Ticket campaign and then we head into DUI awareness as Memorial Day and July 4 come around.”
Though it was not restricted to intersections, a two-week Joining Forces effort in March provided substantial numbers in citations and stops throughout the region. NHP reported “528 enforcement stops which yielded 641 citations,” according to a press release sent late last month. The overall operation also saw 154 speeding citations, 87 tickets for not having proof of insurance, 84 for talking, texting or reading non-voice communication on a cell phone while driving, and 40 more were issued to motorists for not wearing a seat belt. Troopers also handed out 65 verbal warnings and six citations to pedestrians.
The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office reported its results from the same Joining Forces campaign in March, which saw 319 traffic stops leading to one DUI arrest and two fugitives arrested. WCSO handed out 240 speeding citations, 18 cell phone or other distracted driving citations and 20 citations for driver's license related violations.
“People are exposed to distracted drivers more than I realized and I think people are starting to see that we need to get people’s eyes on the road,” Allen said. “We want to let you know through awareness and by stressing to the public to eliminate distractions and not to put themselves or any other motorists at risk.”