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Colorado’s Texting While Driving Law

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Texting while drivingFor the past year, Colorado has had a new approach to the rising problem of distracted driving and the car accidents that all too often result from it. We’ve all seen distracted driving in action, and far too many of us have done it ourselves.

Wolfing down a burger while driving to a meeting. Answering a text message. “Talking with your hands.” There are many more examples, but they all share one thing in common — they distract a driver’s attention from the road.

In Denver, at a recent traffic stop, almost a third of the citations issued were for distracted driving. Peter Marcus, a staff writer for The Denver Daily News, reports:

One woman was driving 50 mph while applying her makeup; another was attempting to set their iPod while eating breakfast and speeding; another was texting while driving.

Denver police issued 15 citations for texting while driving or distracted driving and 36 other violations over the past week while conducting traffic enforcement near Santa Fe Boulevard and West Evans Avenue.

While the recent state numbers for Colorado are not yet available, the national statistics are disturbing: One in five crashes that resulted in injury involved distracted driving. Drivers using handheld devices are four times as likely to get into serious accidents that result in injury. The list goes on and on.

Stephanie Collins, a writer for News First 5, recently ran a report on enforcement of the new distracted-driving law in the Colorado Springs area:

You’re not in the clear though if you’re texting and following all other traffic laws. Texting and driving is a moving violation and a primary offense, so you can be pulled over just for typing on your phone.

[Officer Donald] Hopkins adds that it’s all about making our roads safer. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says you’re four times more likely to get in an accident when using a hand held device. When it comes down to proving if you were texting and driving, Officer Hopkins adds that they know what questions to ask to figure out what you were doing on your phone.

Collins goes on to observe that pretty much anything you can do on your cell phone besides just talking on it is basically illegal. She also relays a request from the police for drivers to pull over on the side of the road if they need to do something on the phone more complex than just speaking.

Image by ford, used under its Creative Commons license.

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