Distracted Driving Accidents

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Colorado Distracted Driving Statistics

Distracted driving has become a major public health problem. According to Distraction.gov, distracted driving was responsible for 3,331 deaths in 2011 alone. Many thousands of other motorists also suffered injuries in distracted driving accidents.

Distracted driving accidents are completely preventable; drivers just need to pay attention. The fact that a distracted driving accident could have been avoided makes it especially devastating to an injured victim or to the surviving family members of someone who was killed. Colorado law provides some measure of comfort for these victims by holding the distracted driver legally responsible for compensating those injured in the crash. However, you should consult with an experienced auto accident attorney to maximize your ability to obtain the compensation provided by Colorado law.

What is Considered Distracted Driving in Colorado?

Distracted driving encompasses any type of behavior behind the wheel other than driving. Common distractions include:

While texting can be especially dangerous, any kind of distracted driving behavior presents serious risks. Distraction.gov underscores the danger of distracted driving with these statistics:

  • Distracted driving played a role in 18 percent of all injury-causing auto accidents in 2010.
  • Among drivers 20 and under who were involved in fatal car crashes, 11 percent of the young drivers were distracted when the crash occurred. Young people tend to be more likely to drive distracted than older adults.
  • 40 percent of all teenagers in the United States reported being in a car with a driver who was using his or her cell phone in a risky manner.
  • Drivers using handheld devices while driving are four times more likely to get into an injury-causing accident than other drivers.
  • The risk of becoming involved in a distracted driving crash while texting is 23 times greater than the risk when driving without distraction.

As these figures illustrate, distracted driving is no minor matter. Thousands of people are injured or killed in distracted driving accidents, and every person who chooses to drive distracted puts himself and others in danger.

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Texting While Driving — One of the Biggest Threats to Denver Drivers

The risk of texting and driving is not small. As Distraction.gov reports, a person who is texting and driving are 23 times more likely to get involved in an auto accident than a driver who is paying attention to the road. Young people are most likely to text and drive. However, young drivers can least afford to take this type of risk, since they have minimal driving experience. Adults, too, can be guilty of texting and driving.

Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous behaviors that a person can perform behind the wheel. According to Distraction.gov, a person who sends or receives a text message while driving will look away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At that time, the driver’s vehicle can cover the length of a football field – all while the driver’s eyes are on the phone.

People who text and drive endanger themselves and others in their vehicles. They also put every other person on the road in danger – not just other motorists, but motorcyclistsbicyclists, and pedestrians as well. Often, this means that innocent third parties are harmed by a driver’s negligent decision to text and drive. If you or a loved one was hurt by a distracted or careless driver, you have legal rights. A Denver auto accident lawyer can help you to enforce those rights and to recover fair compensation from the person who caused your accident.

Unfortunately, when someone texts and drives, he or she is more likely to hit another vehicle, pedestrian or bicycle rider, or to veer out of the lane and into a collision. A texting driver is also less likely to see if the car in front has stopped, so the risk of a rear-end collision is higher. A driver who is paying attention to his smartphone instead of the road might not slow down or serve to avoid a crash, further increasing the chances of serious injury or death.

Colorado Law for Distracted Driving

In Colorado, distracted driving violations are primary offenses. However, a law enforcement officer must see the use of the mobile device to transmit data, and that the driver was operating the motor vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner, in order to issue a citation.

Importantly, distracted driving is a broader category than texting while driving. It encompasses the act of driving while engaged in anything – texting, looking after children or pets, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating, or reading – that takes a driver’s focus away from the road. While lawmakers at the state, federal, and local level are examining a wide variety of issues related to driver focus, the main concern is the potential distraction caused by cell phones and other technology in the car.

Underage Drivers

Although adult drivers are permitted to use cell phones for voice calls in Colorado, any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission. 

Exceptions to the Law

Exceptions to Colorado’s distracted driving law are provided under specified circumstances. Drivers, regardless of age, may use a wireless device for phone calls or texting to contact a public safety entity or during an emergency. An emergency is defined as any situation in which the following may occur:

  • The person has reason to fear for his or her life or safety or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against him or her or against another person
  • The individual is reporting of a fire, serious traffic accident, serious road hazard, or a medical or hazardous materials emergency
  • The driver is reporting a person who is driving in a reckless, careless, or unsafe manner


Penalties for violating Colorado’s distracted driving law include fines (ranging from $50 to $1000) and points off your license (1-4). If an adult driver who has already been cited for texting while driving is the cause of injury or death to another, they face up to one year in prison.

In addition to statutory fines, offenders have assessed a surcharge credited to the Victims and Witnesses Assistance and Law Enforcement Fund and the Crime Victim Compensation Fund.

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