Since spring, millions of Colorado residents have made the transition to working from home. Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) predicted that fatal accidents would drop correspondingly. However, the opposite is true.
To the consternation and concern of the public, fatalities have increased by 20 percent. According to CDOT, distracted driving is one of the largest contributing factors.
Fewer drivers, but more distractions
If traffic has decreased on our roadways, then why have fatal crashes increased? Representatives for CDOT point to distracted drivers. Because of the reduced traffic congestion, many drivers mistakenly believe that it is less risky to engage in distracting behaviors such as texting, checking email and talking on the phone. Analysts estimate that fatal accidents directly related to distracted driving spiked by 150 percent, which contributed significant to the overall increase in overall fatalities.
Colorado’s distracted driving laws
The state has several laws in place to prevent distracted driving. According to the Colorado Revised Statutes Section 42-4-239:
- Adult drivers may use cell phones or other handheld devices such as tablets to make voice calls
- Adult drivers may not use any electronic device for manual tasks such as texting
- Minor drivers may not use a cell phone or handheld device for voice calls or manual tasks
- In an emergency (defined as an accident, criminal act, fire, traffic hazard or another event that makes someone fear for their life) adults may use devices for manual tasks and minors may make phone calls or do manual tasks.
It remains to be seen whether the alarming statistics regarding fatal accidents and distracted driving go down once traffic reverts to its previous patterns. Legislators, safety officials, law enforcement officers continue to debate the merits of imposing more restrictions on drivers’ use of handheld devices. Drivers should remain vigilant, drive assertively and limit their use of cell phones and other technology that causes distractions.