Who doesn’t carry a cell phone today in Colorado? Thanks to those devices, we are more connected to each other than ever before. However, we are also more distracted than ever before when we get behind the wheel. Too many people cannot put down their phones when they drive. Because they are more focused on talking or texting instead of driving, they greatly increase their risk of getting into an auto accident that leaves themselves and others with serious injuries.
What Is Distracted Driving?
Using a cell phone is not the only way you can become distracted while you drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that causes a driver’s attention to be diverted from driving. These activities can cause a driver to become manually, visually or cognitively distracted. The distractions can arise from inside the car or from outside of the car. Examples include:
- Talking on the phone
- Texting or e-mailing
- Adjusting the radio
- Using a navigation app
- Eating, drinking or smoking
- Grooming (such as putting on makeup)
- Staring at other traffic (such as an accident)
- Interacting with passengers (including pets).
Still, the biggest concern remains the use of electronic devices while driving – especially among young drivers who grew up using smartphones and tablets. They are often called “digital natives,” and they may not think twice about talking on a phone or texting while driving because it seems natural to them. As the NHTSA reports, an estimated 660,000 people use their phones while driving during daylight hours. Many of these drivers are under age 30.
Does Colorado Prohibit Distracted Driving?
Many states have enacted laws that ban certain forms of distracted driving. The Governors Highway Safety Association reports that:
- 15 states ban drivers from hand-held cell phone use
- 38 states ban “novice” drivers from all cell phone use
- 20 states ban school bus drivers from all cell phone use
- 47 states ban all drivers from texting while driving.
Colorado law prohibits all drivers from texting or entering data on a cell phone. The state also bans drivers under age 18 from using a cell phone in any fashion while they are on the road. If a driver violates the law, the driver could face a fine and get points tacked on to his or her driver’s license record.
Of course, Colorado has no law that prohibits drivers from engaging in other types of distracted driving such as driving while looking in the mirror and trying to put on makeup. As we stated above, any of those distractions could potentially lead to a crash. However, Colorado does punish drivers for reckless driving, and drivers who act carelessly and recklessly behind the wheel and cause a crash can be held liable through our civil justice system.
Does Colorado Track Distracted Driving Crash Data?
Colorado is among the many states that track distracted driving accident statistics. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, an average of 40 accidents occur on state roads every day that involve a distracted driver. Unfortunately, the number of distracted driving crashes continues to rise each year. For instance, in 2012, there were 13,026 accidents in which a distracted driver was at fault, CDOT reports. In 2015, that number rose to 15,428.
Most of these crashes involve younger drivers. The CDOT statistics show that, between 2012 and 2015, drivers in the 16 to 30 age group accounted for 45 percent of distracted driving accidents in our state.
Did a Distracted Driver Cause Your Accident?
If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries in a car accident in Fort Collins or elsewhere in Colorado, you should seek help from an experienced personal injury lawyer without delay. The lawyer can promptly investigate the crash and determine whether the other driver caused the crash through negligent conduct such as driving while distracted. If the driver’s negligence caused the accident and the injuries that you have suffered, you have the right to seek full compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain, suffering and more.
In order to investigate the crash, the lawyer can gather and analyze evidence that includes witness statements and cell phone records. Those items of evidence may establish that, at the time of the accident, the driver was texting or talking on his or her phone. In some cases, a lawyer may turn to an expert such as a digital forensics expert or accident reconstruction specialist who can establish the role that distracted driving played in your accident.
If you believe that a distracted driver caused your auto accident, contact Steve Ray Law, PLLC. We can provide a free consultation today and explain the steps we can take on your behalf to pursue the justice and compensation that you deserve. Call or reach us online for a free consultation.