New Nevada Law Changes How Highway Shoulders Are Used

As of January 1, 2024, new legislation in Nevada allows authorized motor vehicle drivers to drive on the paved shoulder of a highway under certain circumstances. This right is limited to certain vehicles and designated areas of Nevada highways only. Its purpose is to ease traffic congestion and allow certain workers to get to their destinations faster.

Who Is Permitted to Use the Shoulder as a Travel Lane?

 The new law, Assembly Bill 56, sets certain conditions in which a driver may pass another vehicle on that vehicle’s right, using the shoulder of the highway as a travel lane to do so if necessary. While Nevada Revised Statute Section 484B.210 already allowed overtaking on the right side, AB 56 extended the law to allow the following vehicles to drive on the paved shoulder of a highway:

 Authorized emergency vehicles, as described in NRS 484A.480:

  • A police car
  • A fire department vehicle
  • A Department of Public Safety vehicle
  • A public ambulance agency vehicle
  • A vehicle that has been issued a permit to operate as an authorized emergency vehicle under NRS 484A.490
  • Traffic incident management vehicles, used by the Department of Transportation to provide aid to motorists or mitigate traffic accidents
  • Towing vehicles, including cars and trucks
  • Coroner vehicles (those used by a county coroner, medical examiner or medicolegal death investigator responding to the scene of a death or transporting a dead human body)
  • Public transit buses (a vehicle used by the public transit system designed to carry more than 10 passengers)

Other authorized vehicles, such as those operating as part of the Freeway Service Patrol and hazardous material vehicles, also have permission to drive on the shoulder of a highway. However, authorized drivers may only utilize the shoulder where lawfully placed signs allow them to do so. Only certain stretches of Nevada highways are marked to allow the use of its shoulders by specified drivers.

Drivers Not Allowed to Stop on the Shoulder When Yielding to Emergency Vehicles

 The other change that AB 56 made is prohibiting drivers from moving to the shoulder and stopping in a position on the shoulder of a highway to yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle that is using its flashing lights or siren.

 Any person who violates a provision of the new law in Nevada can be subject to penalties set forth in NRS 484B.130 or 484B.135, which enforce double penalties for committing violations in a work zone or pedestrian safety zone.

How Does the New Law Affect Drivers in Nevada? 

Under the new law, more authorized vehicles may be driving on the shoulder of highways in Nevada. As a driver, it is important to be aware of these vehicles as they pass to your right. Be alert to your surroundings and check your mirrors frequently to spot drivers that may be approaching to your right on the shoulder of the highway.

If you drive an authorized vehicle and are permitted to utilize the shoulder of a highway under the new law, do so safely and prudently. Keep your speed to a reasonable level and watch for drivers to your left, who may attempt to also use the shoulder and pull out in front of you, or whose vehicles may be stopped partially in the shoulder.

If you get involved in a car accident involving a vehicle using the shoulder of a highway, contact a Las Vegas car accident attorney at Koch & Brim, LLP for a free consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation.