Distracted drivers cause as many as 40 automobile collisions in the state of Colorado each day, according to recent statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Distracted drivers also caused 67 traffic deaths last year. Colorado transportation officials recently decided to try a different approach to curb distracted driving, framing the problem of compulsive cell phone use as a type of addiction or “killer habit.”
State transportation leaders are focusing on long-term behavior modification to kick the killer habit and reduce the occurrence of preventable deaths on Colorado roadways. Phones do not have to be dangerous, the CDOT says. The agency is encouraging the use of smartphone apps that disable cellphones when drivers are behind the wheel.
Colorado Distracted Driving Statistics
In Colorado, the research on distracted driving indicates that the problem is getting worse. According to DOT reports, in 2014, 59% of all Colorado traffic deaths were due to distracted driving. That includes texting and driving and other forms of distraction. In 2015, distraction contributed to 68% of all traffic deaths.
The risks of distracted driving are especially high for teens and young adults. Reports from Teensafe, a smartphone tracking application company, show that as much as 87% of all American teens between 14 and 18 own a smartphone. The number rises to 92% for individuals between 19 and 34. With less driving experience, younger drivers are disproportionately represented in texting and driving crash statistics.
Is Smartphone Use Really “Addictive?”
In a July 2016 poll of digital device users, 76% of people between 13 and 24 years old self-reported that they indeed were “addicted” to their devices.
How Do Apps Help?
The Colorado DOT lists several new phone apps as tools to curb the problem of using a cell phone while driving.
All of the apps recommended by DOT provide the same basic functions, such as silencing the phone while driving and suppressing notifications that make you want to look at your phone. In general, all the apps do the following:
- Work on either Apple or Android
- Silence your phone so you do not get calls when driving
- Stop alerts and messages while driving
- Still allow access to things like music and navigation
- Alert parents or account holders when turned off or disabled
Pros: It’s free!
Cons: Only works on AT&T
Pros: Works with any phone carrier
Designed for families or business fleets
Cons: Not free–costs $4.99 to download
Pros: Offers tons of driving analytics, reports, behavior modeling
Great for companies looking to reduce insurance costs
Different interface for businesses and families
Cons: May not be as easy for families to use
Reviews are questionable – about 3.5 stars
Pros: Works well with Bluetooth
Terrific reviews–5 out of 5 stars on iOS
Cons: Requires a Bluetooth connection
Although not mentioned on the Colorado DOT website, Cell Control offers a method of monitoring that may be well-suited for those families that want to be in complete control of a teen’s driving habits. The company provides a side-by-side comparison on its own website, where there are videos of their product going head-to-head with other apps.
Pros: Works with Bluetooth
Can restrict driver from disabling features
Cons: Most expensive of all the options
$7.95 per month for the basic
$9.95 per month if you want mapping features
This one gets an honorable mention, because it is technically not an application. However, Apple unveiled this innovative new feature on September 19, 2017. The new iOS 11 operating system offers the option to silence the phone while in motion. The feature allows the phone to detect when the vehicle is in motion.
There are some major benefits to this feature. First, according to Statista, about 40% of all smartphone users use an iPhone. Second, it is free and does not require a separate application. This could be a bonus for users who have a lot of existing apps and want simplicity. Finally, it has features that allow you to turn off the setting so that you can use the phone as a passenger.
Cell Phone Laws are Changing
More and more distracted drivers are on the road, even despite most states enacting tighter restrictions on devices.
For a state-by-state listing of cell phone bans, check out the National Conference of State Legislatures. Currently, 14 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have complete bans on handheld devices while driving.
Colorado bans texting while driving, but has no restriction on handheld cell phone use for adults. This means it remains completely legal to input a phone number and place a call while driving, even without Bluetooth or any form of hands-free device. Drivers under age 18 are not permitted to use a cell phone while driving except to call the police or fire department.
Can a Person Hit by a Distracted Driver Sue?
Distracted driving is a real problem in Colorado, and the attorneys of The Sawaya Law Firm are experienced at dealing with insurance companies and negligent drivers.
If you have been injured in a serious car crash caused by a distracted driver in Colorado, you should seek legal advice. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost income from missed work and other expenses.
You should not try to deal with the other driver’s insurance company or the driver’s attorney on your own. You should have an experienced injury attorney standing up for your interests. The law says the individual responsible for causing the accident is also responsible for paying for the harm he or she caused. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company won’t make it right, you may have to file a lawsuit to pursue justice.
Call (720) 709-2802 to schedule your no-risk free case evaluation. Speak with a lawyer who understands auto accidents and who can give you peace of mind while working to resolve your case.