In 2015, auto accidents involving distracted drivers killed 3,477 people across the United States and injured another 391,000. Twenty-two percent of surveyed Coloradans admit to having read a message recently while driving.

CDOT Campaign Aims to Focus Your Mind on the Road

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is stepping in to limit distracted driving cases. The agency launched its Drop the Distraction public information campaign recently to tell drivers about the new rules of the road signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on June 1.

State lawmakers enacted the new law, and its stiffer penalties to underscore the dangers of using electronics while on the road. The current policy has a $300 fine and a 4-point driver’s license penalty, replacing a $50 fine and a 1-point penalty.

Colorado allows drivers to incur no more than 12 violation points within a single year before suspending their licenses. Insurers may also increase car insurance premiums if drivers accrue significant amounts of points.

Tracking Injury and Death Due to Local and National Distraction

Forty crashes a day involve distracted drivers on Colorado’s roads. 67 people died in such accidents in 2016, CDOT officials state.

General traffic accidents claimed the lives of 608 people in 2016, a 24.5 percent increase from 2014, which had 488 deaths. So far in 2017, another 425 have died, according to CDOT statistics.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  (NHTSA) reports that in 2015, crashes involving distracted drivers killed 3,477 people across the United States and injured another 391,000. About 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while on the road. Teenagers were the largest age group of distracted drivers reported in fatal accidents.

Although NHTSA statistics show a drop in distracted driving, it is insignificant in comparison with the trend’s general persistence.

Drivers Needed an Attitude Adjustment

State officials have been alarmed by the public’s lax attitudes about safety, as shown in a recent survey of drivers across Colorado. Darrell Lingk, CDOT’s director of transportation safety, said:

“Twenty-two percent of surveyed Coloradans admit to having read a message recently while driving, 64 percent selected entertainment on a mobile device and 33 percent talked on a handheld phone. The stats are alarming. The dangers of using your phone while driving are very real. We hope that by recognizing the increased risk, drivers will defer using their handheld devices while driving thus leading to improved safety on our roadways.”

Getting the Message Across

CDOT’s Drop the Distraction campaign targets Coloradans through the source of the problem: their phones.  And where they’re breaking the law: in their cars. The program uses ads on the Web music streaming service, Pandora, traditional traffic radio broadcasts, ads printed on 250,000 coffee cup sleeves at 70 coffee shops across the Denver area, as well as TV ads, search engine marketing, and social media.

Seeking Volunteers to Make It Personal

CDOT is also looking for volunteers to appear in a series of short videos to talk about the firsthand dangers of distracted driving. The program seeks participants who have been hit by distracted drivers, have ridden in a car where a distracted driver caused an accident, and police and emergency medical technicians who have seen the carnage distracted driving can cause.

Stay Focused and Safe on the Roads

CDOT also encourages Coloradans to download mobile apps intended to cut down on phone functionality while driving to allow drivers to stay focused on the road.

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