April Is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Colorado residents may be aware that April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. However, most residents probably do not know that this campaign began in Colorado and was prompted by the death of a nine-year-old girl who was killed by a distracted driver in 2008.

Cellphones are one of the key causes of distracted driving.

The National Safety Council states that approximately 24 percent of accidents in 2010 involved cellphones. Studies indicate that the widespread use of cellphones is one of the main contributors to the distracted driving epidemic.

Additionally, the National Highway Transportation System estimates that over 2000 individuals were killed in distracted driving-related accidents in 2011. The numbers are not decreasing; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nine people are killed each day in accidents involving a distracted driver.

Most individuals know they are engaging in distracted driving, but may not realize the significance of the problem. A 2011 CDC study reports that 69 percent of United States drivers admitted to talking on a cellphone while driving within 30 days of being surveyed. Furthermore, 31 percent acknowledged sending or receiving a text message while driving within the same time period.

According to the CDC, there are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual distraction occurs when a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road
  • Manual distraction involves removing hands from the wheel
  • Cognitive distraction involves anything that takes a driver's mind off of driving

Cellphones are dangerous because they involve all three types of distraction. Using a hands-free cellphone does not lessen the risk, since an individual is concentrating on the conversation rather than driving.

Colorado drivers may be ticketed for texting and driving.

The CDC defines distracted driving as driving while engaging in any activity that takes an individual's attention away from the primary task of driving. Examples of distracted driving include:

  • Texting or using a cellphone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Using a navigation system
  • Changing radio stations

For individuals without a navigation system, reading maps is also a form of distracted driving, as well as brushing hair or applying makeup. However, texting is by far the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Texting takes a driver's attention away from the road more frequently and for longer periods of time than other forms of distracted driving.

Colorado has strict laws regarding cellphone use. An individual may be stopped and ticketed for texting while driving. Since young drivers have the highest rate of distracted driving-related accidents, Colorado law forbids drivers under the age 18 from using a cellphone while driving.

Additionally, commercial drivers are at a higher risk of an accident due to the large size of the vehicles they operate. Because of this enhanced risk, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration placed a ban on texting and driving for all commercial vehicle drivers.

A car accident causes severe personal, financial and emotional trauma. Car accident victims usually face substantial medical bills, lost wages and strain on personal relationships.

An individual injured in an accident with a distracted driver should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A skilled attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and help obtain all deserved compensation.