Like most states, Colorado has passed laws expressly addressing distracted driving in an attempt to keep roads safer and prevent car accidents. Driver distraction and inattention have become an epidemic in Colorado and throughout the nation due to modern technology.
Statistics show that in 2021, 3,522 people lost their lives in distracted driving accidents. Understanding Colorado’s distracted driving laws can help you prevent accidents and hold someone accountable for causing your crash.
Distracted driving refers to something diverting a driver’s attention away from the primary task of operating a motor vehicle. Distractions are dangerous because they put a driver at risk of missing changing roadway situations, such as a crossing pedestrian or a light turning red. Distracted drivers also experience delayed reaction times. In a dangerous situation, a delay of even a few seconds could prove fatal for a victim.
Cell phones are the most dangerous – and common – form of driver distraction. Cell phone use behind the wheel is so deadly because it simultaneously takes a driver’s hands off the wheel, eyes off the road and mind off of the driving task. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, taking your eyes off the road to send just one text (for five seconds) at 55 miles per hour is the same as driving the length of a football field without looking.
Colorado has cell phone laws in place to help prevent this crash risk. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cell phones for any purpose: voice calls, text messages and hands-free usage. The only exceptions are for emergency situations that require the driver to call for help. If a minor is found using a cell phone while driving a vehicle for any purpose other than an emergency, he or she could face a fine of up to $300 and driver’s license suspension.
Adult drivers over the age of 18 are permitted to use their cell phones for voice calls in Colorado but cannot send text messages while driving. No manual data entry is permitted on a cell phone or handheld electronic device. This includes typing an email or text, entering an address into the GPS, and browsing the internet. Adult drivers face fines of up to $1,000 and one year of imprisonment if unlawful cell phone use leads to bodily injury or death of another person.
Distracted driving does not only refer to cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, although cell phones present the most dangerous and prevalent form of driver distraction in Colorado. Other distractions include eating, drinking, reading, personal grooming, talking to passengers and adjusting the radio.
Colorado does not have specific laws prohibiting all of these driver distractions. However, drivers are generally required to pay attention to the road, drive safely and prudently, and obey traffic laws. If a distracted driver breaks a roadway rule, such as by speeding or failing to yield the right-of-way, the driver could be stopped by law enforcement and issued a citation for the infraction or reckless driving.
Colorado Revised Statutes Section 42-4-1401 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle in a manner that indicates a wanton or willful disregard for the safety of other people or property. Driving while distracted or engaged in other tasks can meet the definition of reckless driving – especially if it results in a car accident.
If you get injured in a car accident and believe the other driver is to blame due to inattention, work with a Denver car accident attorney at Dormer Harpring, LLC to help you prove that he or she was violating one of Colorado’s distracted driving laws. We can access cell phone records, interview eyewitnesses, reconstruct the car accident and take other steps to help prove your distracted driving case. Contact us today for a free consultation.