April is distracted driving awareness month and springtime is prime time when it comes to talking about staying safe behind the wheel.
Distracted driving accident attorneys in Denver know texting gets most of the attention when we talk about the risks of taking our eyes off the road. But many other behaviors can result in serious accident risks, including eating, grooming and traveling with passengers, particularly children or pets.
The National Safety Council is paying particular attention this year to getting the word out about the risks associated with cognitive distraction, as an increasing number of studies have found hands-free devices are not a safe alternative to hand-held cell phone use by drivers.
Colorado law prohibits all drivers from texting at the wheel. Underage drivers are also prohibited from using a cell phone at the wheel, except in cases of emergency. As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Colorado Department of Transportation is launching, “Lose the Blindfold,” a campaign that equates texting and driving to wearing a blindfold behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is only becoming more commonplace as the years go by,” said Amy Ford, CDOT Communications Director. “There is no greater distraction than texting and driving, which is why it is the focus of this year’s campaign.”
CDOT is also pushing drivers to eliminate all forms of distraction, including:
- All electronic devices, including smartphones and in-car technology.
- Eating or drinking.
- Interacting with passengers, children or pets.
- Reading a map or looking at directions.
- Saving, applying makeup, grooming.
A 2013 distracted driving study by Colorado University found approximately 15 percent of drivers are distracted. Top 5 distractions were talking on a cell phone, eating or drinking, texting, smoking and reaching for an object. Notably, they found nearly 20 percent of women were distracted, compared to about 14 percent of men. Recent studies have found young mothers are more likely to be distracted at the wheel and more likely to spent substantial time on a smartphone each day. And the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found children about four times more distracting than adult passengers. Infants are approximately eight times more distracting.
In March, lawmakers in the Colorado House rejected a measure that would have outlawed hand-held cell phone use or app use by all drivers. Hands-free devices would still be permitted and the measure would have only been subject to secondary enforcement, meaning law enforcement would need another violation to initiate a traffic stop before issuing a citation. The Denver Post reported support exists among some lawmakers for an even tougher measure. Currently, 12 states ban all drivers from using a hand-held cell phone.
The state’s original distracted driving law became effective in 2009 in response to several high-profile deaths, including 9-year-old Erica Forney who was struck and killed by an inattentive driver in Fort Collins. While it bans texting, email and Twitter use by all drivers, it’s proven difficult to enforce because cell-phone use by adult drivers remains legal.
Contact Bell & Pollock at (877) 744-5900 or visit http://www.bellpollockinjury.com to schedule a consultation with a distracted driving accident lawyer in Denver.