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Can more be done to stop car accidents due to distracted driving?

Car crashes happen for a variety of reasons. When that reason is something preventable, it only exacerbates the tragedy of the event. Families of victims may struggle to understand the reasoning behind a negligent driver causing a crash that injures or even kills someone. One common and preventable cause of car accidents is distracted driving.

Though most people understand why distracted driving is dangerous, and many states have implemented laws to stop people from doing it, it still happens every single day. Here in Colorado, there are laws to discourage people from using cell phones while driving, but if you or a loved one has ever been in this kind of crash, you may wonder if those laws go far enough. The issue is more complex than you may realize.

The current law

Colorado law bans texting while driving unless it is an emergency. However, it is counted as a secondary offense, which means that law enforcement has to see a person driving in a manner defined as "careless and imprudent" first, not just texting behind the wheel. Furthermore, there is no current law that only allows people to use a hands-free device to make a call, meaning people can still hold a phone and talk on it while they drive.

Critics argue that the current law doesn't actually make roadways safer because it doesn't prevent people from driving distracted. A new bill that would remedy that is on the schedule for the upcoming session at the state Capitol. It requires drivers to use some type of hands-free device with their phone. The hope is that this bill will pass where others like it have failed in the past.

How bad is the problem?

Across the country in 2017, distracted driving caused 9% of crashes that accounted for 37,000 fatalities. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration warns that these numbers may not be a reliable estimate. Others say that even with hands-free laws on the books, it may not be enough since drivers have multiple means of distraction while driving.

A Denver media outlet conducted its own study on distracted driving, where reporters watched busy intersections at the time of day when crashes are most likely. They counted over 350 instances of distracted driving in just one hour. They say the number could be higher because it was difficult for the reporters to track every single vehicle, and some cars had dark windows that obscured the views of the reporters. However, they also admit that they didn't witness any crashes, either.

Protect yourself and your family

No matter what the law says, car accidents due to distracted driving will still happen. If you or someone you care about has suffered injury in a crash with a distracted driver, you may have legal means to hold responsible parties accountable. You don't need to suffer in silence.

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