Driving a car is as American as apple pie (or perhaps even more so since the apple pie is a Dutch dessert and everyone knows all great cars are invented and made in the United States!). It is no surprise then that the most criminal thing most of us ever do is drive 15 miles per hour over the speed limit, run a stop sign, or park illegally.

It turns out that proper use of a car is governed by long and varied laws known generally as rules of the road. In Nevada, the rules of the road are codified at NRS 484B which, if you haven’t read it since your 16 year-old driving exam, might be worth taking a read when you have time or if you have a late-night attack of insomnia you need to cure with some particularly dry reading.

We’re all pretty familiar with the basics of driving, such as yielding to oncoming traffic when we’re at a two way stop (NRS 484B.257) but where do you stop? At the white stop line if there is one, before entering the cross walk if there isn’t a stop line, and if there is no crosswalk, at the first point where the stopped driver can see oncoming traffic. What about bicycles and pedestrians?

First, although many drivers don’t know it, it is actually against the law for cyclists to ride on a sidewalk (NRS 484B.777) except in special circumstances. Drivers of vehicles are required to allow at least three feet between their vehicle and a bicycle when passing it (NRS 484B.270). Pedestrians are required to walk on a sidewalk or other walkway if one is provided and, if not, on the left side of the road as far from traffic as possible (NRS 484B.297).

One matter of particular concern to residents of the Virgin Valley is the safe use of round-abouts since we have two of those devilish circles located at the Falcon Ridge I-15 interchange. Who yields to oncoming traffic, the person already in the round-about or the person entering it?

The answer is actually pretty simple. Since the person entering the intersection has a yield sign, he or she must slow or stop until it is safe to enter the traffic circle. (NRS 484B.250) The driver already in the traffic circle does not slow or stop for vehicles waiting to enter the traffic circle.

Another issue we’re all re-acquainting ourselves with now that school has started again is what to do when we see a stopped school bus on the road. If the school bus has its red flashers illuminated, all other drivers on the road in both directions must immediately stop their vehicles until the bus turns off its red flashers. This stop is required even if there is a turn lane between your car and the bus. Passing a stopped bus is a big no-no and carries major penalties, including (for second or third offenses) suspension of driver’s licenses. Getting to work on time just isn’t worth it!

Although driving ourselves around in cars and trucks is a normal part of our lives, car crashes are one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. One of the best ways to avoid accidents is to be aware of the rules of the road, follow them, and to remember that safe driving is important to all of us.

Clifford Gravett is a local attorney with the Virgin Valley law firm of Bingham Snow & Caldwell located in Mesquite. The firm serves clients in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (702-346-7300 / www.binghamsnow.com). Is there a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future article? E-mail him at mesquiteesq@gmail.com.