Car Accidents

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

The text can wait. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Metier Law Firm wants to reduce the 42 crashes that happen in Colorado every day due to distracted driving.

Distracted Driving in Colorado

By Jason Hernandez

4 min read
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the attorneys at Metier Law Firm want to help raise awareness about this problem on our Colorado roads. What exactly is distracted driving?  Why is it dangerous?  What are the most common types of distracted driving in Colorado?  How can we make our roads safer?

What Is Distracted Driving?

Probably the most obvious and well-known form of distracted driving today is texting while driving, or using your phone while behind the wheel. However, distracted driving isn’t restricted to only cell phones and essentially can be any activity that takes your attention away from the road, including the following:
  • Applying makeup or some other personal grooming
  • Adding songs to your playlist or looking for a podcast
  • Eating or drinking
  • Adding/searching for an address to your GPS app
  • Rubber-necking an accident
  • and more
Driving is a complex action that deserves your attention to keep you safe and those around you safe. Anything that takes your attention away from driving contributes to your distraction behind the wheel, and can lead to a car collision. 

Why is it dangerous?

Every year, Colorado averages 15,000 car crashes due to distracted driving.  In 2020, even though fewer drivers were on our roads, 68 people died in those types of crashes.  To put those numbers differently, 42 crashes happen every day, and 1 person dies due to distracted driving every week. 

The dangers are very real, but are avoidable by not using your phone so that you can focus fully on the task at hand – driving.

Types of Distraction While Driving

There are four main types of distractions that drivers face, and many distracting behaviors involve two or more of these.  The four main types are Visual, Auditory, Physical and Cognitive.
  • Visual Driving Distractions - these happen any time you take your eyes away from the road ahead, including turning to speak to your passenger, checking the time, or looking for something to eat.
  • Auditory Driving Distractions - these occur when you’re listening to something other than the road and traffic sounds. Listening to music while we drive can be enjoyable, but if the music is too loud you won’t be able to hear your own engine, other vehicles around you or emergency vehicles.
  • Physical Driving Distractions – this happens any time your hands are touching something other than the steering wheel. These include drinking a coffee, changing the AC, or dipping a chicken nugget in Polynesian sauce.
  • Cognitive Driving Distractions - these happen anytime you’re thinking about something other than driving and probably happen the most/easiest.  If you’ve ever driven home from the grocery store or from work and realized you barely remember the drive after exiting I-25 or I-70, then you’ve experienced a cognitive driving distraction.
Now that you know what the four types are, you can see how a number of distracted activities fall into multiple categories.  Texting, for example, falls under visual, physical and cognitive distractions.  Eating a burger is physical and when you look for ketchup or napkins, it also becomes visual. 

How are we making our roads safer?

It is currently against the law for anybody under 18 years of age to use a cell phone while driving in Colorado.  For adults older than 18, regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted and one ear may have an earbud/headphone.  However, using the phone to enter and transmit data (i.e. sending a text or searching for a restaurant) is prohibited. 

This has been the law in Colorado since 2016, however distracted driving remains an issue in Colorado because this law is basically a prohibition on texting.  Smartphones can do so much more and this law can be reworded to make it clear what is not allowed.  There have been many cases where the at fault driver was reading a book or streaming a movie in the moments leading up to their crash.   

CO Rev Stat § 42-4-239 (2016) 
Adult drivers.  Regular cell phone use for voice calls is permitted.  Headphones may be worn in one ear for this purpose.  However, adult drivers are prohibited from manual data entry and transmission on a cell phone (i.e., to send a text message or browse the internet) while behind the wheel.
Minor drivers.  Any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.  The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission.  See the Minor License subsection for more information about rules related to minor drivers.

What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Distracted Driving Accident

If you were injured in a distracted driving accident in Colorado, Nebraska, Oregon, Washington, or Wyoming, you need a personal injury attorney who’ll fight for your rights. Give the law experts at Metier Law Firm a call today for a free consultation. Find out whether you have a case, how much you should seek in damages, and whether you even need an attorney by talking to us. Call us today.

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If these questions have crossed your mind, let us help. You may need a little direction or may not need an attorney at all, but you deserve to be confident knowing your options.  Your confidential consultation with us is totally free.

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