Imagine driving 55-mph down a highway while blindfolded. Sounds crazy, but thousands of drivers are doing just that every day. Motorists who send, or read, just one text while behind the wheel take their eyes of the road for 4.6 seconds on average, or the equivalent of driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. That’s more than enough time to lose control of your vehicle and cause a devastating accident. In fact, text messaging increases the risk of a car crash by nearly 200 percent.
Since cell phone use has grown so has texting and other distracted driving-related accidents. In fact, distracted drivers cause nearly 25 percent of all Colorado accidents each year. According to a University of Denver study, cell phones are quickly becoming the most dangerous form of distraction while driving.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) defines distracted driving as a driver performing any in-vehicle task that takes attention and focus away from the primary task of driving. This includes texting, adjusting the radio, eating and drinking, or engaging with other vehicle occupants. So, it’s no surprise that texting is illegal for all drivers in the state, and for drivers under 18 just talking on a cell phone while driving is illegal, with fines ranging from $50 to $100 per offense.
Both CDOT and the Colorado State Patrol have stepped up their distracted driving efforts with younger drivers since traffic crashes are the leading cause of death among American teens, ages 15 to 20, claiming more than 3,000 lives each year. And in fatal distracted driving accidents, 27 percent of drivers were under age 30, due in no small part to texting. In fact, 1 out of 5 teen drivers admitting to having extended, multi-message text conversations behind the wheel.
“We can spot them in traffic, we can spot them at a light and we’re not going to give them a warning,” says Dan Chermok, a Colorado State Patrol trooper. “Even if they’re a good kid, perfect driving record, we would rather write them a ticket now than cover a crash with them in it later.”
However, teens aren’t alone in putting other motorists at risk, and may be learning this dangerous behavior from their own parents. A recent survey revealed that 15 percent of teenage motor vehicle passengers actually witnessed their parents texting and driving. But no matter the age of the driver, there’s no question that distracted driving is on the rise. “Distracted driving continues to be one of the leading causes of fatal and injury crashes in Colorado,” says Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.In fact, in Arvada County alone, officials reported that in just one month last year, of the 228 reported crashes more than half were the result of distracted driving.
If you or a loved one were the victim of a distracted driver, contact an experienced Denver accident lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and ensure you get the compensation and support you need.