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RBC I There were an estimated 15,307 distracted driving crashes in Colorado in 2015, a number that has grown by 16 percent in the last four years.
In 2012, there were 13,236 distracted driving crashes; in 2013 there were 14,002; and in 2014 there were 14,753. With these troubling statistics in mind, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Colorado State Patrol (CSP) are joining a national effort in recognizing April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month by declaring distracted driving a significant threat to traffic safety in Colorado.
Preliminary data indicates that 69 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2015, up from 59 in 2014.
“In a recent CDOT survey, 25 percent of Colorado drivers admitted to using their cell phones for messaging, 38 percent talked on a hand-held cell phones, 63 percent used entertainment devices and 41 percent had eaten while driving in the previous week,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “It’s clear distracted driving poses a threat to anyone on Colorado roadways, and it’s an issue that CDOT will attack head on this summer through our Drop the Distraction campaign.”
Of the estimated 57,298 distracted driving crashes in Colorado between 2012 and 2015, drivers 21 to 30 years old were involved in 30 percent of the crashes. Furthermore, drivers 31 to 40 years old were the second largest group of distracted drivers, accounting for 18 percent of distracted driving crashes between 2012 and 2015.
The most common distraction in these crashes were cell phones followed closely by other passengers in the vehicle. More than 50 percent of Colorado’s distracted driving crashes from 2012 to 2015 occurred in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Adams counties.
“We know we can save lives by reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road and increasing seat belt usage, which is the reason for our DUI and seat belt enforcement periods,” said Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Distracted driving is a more recent but equally dangerous driving habit, and one that we hope to impact through our next enforcement period.”
In conjunction with Distracted Driving National Awareness Month, CDOT is partnering with CSP to conduct a high-visibility distracted driving enforcement period. Beginning Friday and running through Sunday, state troopers will increase patrols, specifically looking for drivers who are distracted.
CDOT is also asking Facebook users to submit their own anti-distracted driving messages for possible use on highway message signs throughout the state.
Starting March 31, the CDOT Facebook page began accepting user submissions for messages, then will put the submissions to a public vote. The winning messages may be displayed on highway signs in April.
CDOT’s Drop The Distraction campaign educates motorists about the dangers of distracted driving. This summer, CDOT will launch a statewide, high-visibility awareness campaign to decrease distracted driving.
For more information about distracted driving in Colorado, visit codot.gov/safety/distracteddriving.