Authorities and Colorado Officials Seek to End Device-Related Distracted Driving Accidents
When it comes to distracted driving in Colorado, specifically distraction caused by mobile devices, law enforcement continues to hammer home the message that when you are behind the wheel of a vehicle, your attention must be on the road, not your cell phone. A weeklong national campaign highlighting the dangers of cellphone use while driving just concluded, but that doesn’t mean law enforcement officials nationwide will drop the subject. Safety officials state they are always on the lookout for those who drive while distracted with the goal of stopping this deadly habit.
U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Seeks to End Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be caused by many factors, such as eating while driving or playing with the radio while the vehicle is in motion. While those behaviors are serious distractions, one bad habit that continues to grow is the use of a cell phone while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2016 statistics, more than 480,000 people a day drive while using a cell phone. That same year, it was noted that nearly 3,500 people were killed by distracted driving while another 391,000 people were injured. While you would hope that those driving in our state would be more cautious, statistics show that’s just not the case. The Colorado Department of Transportation conducted a survey last year, and the numbers are pretty startling:
- Of those who responded to a questionnaire by mail, 89 percent said they were distracted while driving within the past week.
- 40 percent said they drove while reading a message on their phone.
- Over half admitted to talking on their phone, without a hands-free device, while driving.
Distracted driving is extremely dangerous. The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety cites a comprehensive study which states that those who drive and text are eight times more likely to be involved in a car accident. Talking on the phone while driving also increases your chance of being involved in a collision by up to four times. The bottom line is that distractions are leading to more crash-related injuries and deaths, especially here in Colorado. A historical trend of state fatalities shows a dramatic increase in Colorado car accident fatalities over the past few years. Last year, 648 people died on state roads. Compare that to 2014 when 488 were killed in crashes, and you can see the trend is not positive. What makes this trend more troubling is that officials say about 10 percent of those fatal accidents were due to distracted driving.
Youngers Drivers Most at Risk
Federal health officials note that younger drivers, those ages 16-19, are most at risk of dying or being injured in an auto accident. In 2015, six teenagers were killed every day in motor vehicle crashes, with males being two times more likely to be killed than females. While drinking and driving and not using a seatbelt were noted as factors in some of these accidents, distracted driving, especially the use of cells phones, has become an increasing risk. As noted in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign press materials
“Texting while driving has become an especially problematic trend among millennials. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16 to 24 years old have been observed using handheld electronic devices while driving at higher rates than older drivers since 2007.”
That trend is not likely to change since the millennial population is expected to become larger, even overtaking Baby Boomers, by 2019.
Regardless of your age, driving while using a cell phone is dangerous. The only way to decrease the number of accidents and fatalities is for drivers of all ages to refrain from using their phone while driving and focus on the road ahead of them.