It is no secret that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. While distracted driving of any type can cause a car accident, cell phone use is particularly deadly. Despite knowing the risks, however, thousands of drivers in Colorado use their cell phones while driving each day. This act of negligence takes lives and causes serious injuries. Spreading awareness of the dangers of cell phone use behind the wheel can help reduce the number of related accidents.
Why Are Cell Phones So Dangerous?
A driver can be distracted by many different things while driving, including food, the radio, passengers or children, personal grooming, a GPS, and billboards. Statistically, however, cell phones are the most lethal form of driver distraction. Smartphones can absorb a driver’s attention in multiple ways at once: the driver’s manual, visual and cognitive attention. Texting and driving, for instance, takes a driver’s hands off of the wheel, eyes away from the road and brain off of the driving task.
Texting and driving has been compared to drunk driving in how it alters a driver’s abilities and contributes to car accidents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that sending or reading a single text message while driving 55 miles per hour is equivalent to driving across a football field blindfolded. This dangerous type of distraction can reduce a driver’s reaction times, lead to missed changing roadway situations (such as a red light or a pedestrian crossing the road) and cause a deadly accident.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted and inattentive drivers in the U.S. took 3,142 lives in 2019 alone (the most recent year data is available). Distracted driving deaths accounted for 9 percent of the total number of car accident fatalities in 2019. Estimates place the number of deaths caused by distracted drivers from 2012 to 2019 at over 26,000.
Approximately eight people lose their lives every day because of distracted drivers. One in five deaths is a pedestrian or bicyclist. Cell phone use is a persistent cause of distracted driving deaths. The estimated number of drivers who are using their phones while driving at any given moment in the U.S. is approximately 660,000. While teenage drivers are the greatest culprits, older drivers are also guilty of making phone calls, reading or sending text messages, checking emails, taking photographs, and using mobile applications while driving.
Locally, the most recent statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation show 61 distracted drivers involved in fatal car accidents in 2017. This was a decrease from 77 drivers the previous year. Distracted driving was the number one cause of property-damage-only crashes and the second-leading cause of injury or fatal crashes in Colorado (behind drunk driving) in 2017.
Is Cell Phone Use While Driving Illegal in Colorado?
Like many states, Colorado has passed statutes that ban the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. No driver, regardless of age, may manually use a cell phone for data entry or transmission (e.g., texting) while behind the wheel. Drivers over the age of 18, however, can use cell phones for voice calls. The law encourages drivers to use hands-free methods when doing so, and only to make calls when necessary. There are exceptions to the rule for emergencies and for reporting reckless or drunk drivers.
Who Is Responsible for a Car Accident Caused by Cell Phone Use?
Since Colorado is a tort-based car accident state, the driver who is most responsible for causing the crash must pay through his or her car insurance. In most cases, the driver who is guilty of cell phone use while driving is legally responsible, or liable, for a resultant car accident. An Aurora personal injury attorney can help you determine liability in the event of an accident. Cell phone use is often enough of a reason to find a driver at fault for a vehicle collision. For assistance handling a distracted driving car accident claim in Aurora, contact Manning Law. We offer free case consultations.