In recent years, the Colorado Legislature has passed a variety of laws aimed at cutting down on the number of traffic accidents caused by distracted driving and cell phone. A driver’s decision to text or otherwise use a cell phone while driving can have devastating consequences for others on the road.
Fortunately, when injured parties can demonstrate that an accident was the result of someone else’s cell phone use, they may be able to collect enough compensation to cover the cost of medical expenses, vehicle repair, and lost wages.
To learn more about recovering compensation for injuries you sustained in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct, please contact a Colorado car accident attorney who can evaluate your case.
The Dangers of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the act of operating a vehicle while engaged in any activity that takes the driver’s attention away from the road. Although a number of activities fall under the broad category of distracted driving, including eating, adjusting in-vehicle technologies, or talking to passengers, cell phone use has proven to have especially serious repercussions. This is largely due to the fact that using a cell phone often requires drivers to take their hands off of the wheel and their minds off of driving, while also taking their eyes off of the road.
While most people are aware of the danger posed by distracted driving, many continue to text, take photos, or check social media while operating a car. This can have deadly consequences. In fact, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimates that as many as 15,574 of the crashes that occurred in the state in 2015 were caused by distracted driving. In those accidents, 68 people tragically lost their lives.
Furthermore, cellphones were a contributing factor in at least 17 of these fatal crashes. While drivers of all ages may engage in distracted driving practices, CDOT has revealed that around 37.4 percent of all distracted driving-related crashes that occurred between 2012 and 2014 were caused by drivers between the ages of 21 and 34.
Cell Phone Use Restrictions
Before 2009, only those driving with a learner’s permit were barred from using a cell phone while operating a vehicle. Since the new cell phone restrictions were passed, however, all drivers are now prohibited from texting or using their phones to send similar forms of transmission while driving, although adult drivers are allowed to use cell phones for voice calls. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. For instance, drivers are permitted to use their phone while driving to make a phone call or send or receive a text message:
- In an emergency; or
- In order to contact a public safety entity.
According to state law, an emergency is defined as any situation in which a driver:
- Has reason to fear for his or her life;
- Believes that he or she or another person may become the victim of a criminal act;
- Reports a fire, road hazard, traffic accident, or the presence of hazardous materials on the road; or
- Reports that someone else is driving recklessly or in an unsafe or careless manner.
Cell phone use is also permitted in the shoulder lane or designated parking areas. Minors who are under the age of 18 years old or who are driving with a learner’s permit face further restrictions and are prohibited from using a cell phone for any purpose while driving. This includes, but is not limited to texting, emailing, twittering, or using a similar form of manual data entry and transmission.
Prior to June 1, drivers who were caught texting in Colorado were fined $50 for a first offense and also received one point against their driver’s license. For a second offense, the fine was increased to $100. However, a recently passed law has significantly heightened the penalties for this type of traffic violation. According to the terms of the new law, a first offense is punishable by:
- A $500 fine; and
- Five points assessed against the driver’s license.
A second or subsequent offense, on the other hand, will now result in a $750 fine and the assessment of six points on the driver’s license.
Call an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney Today
Distracted driving has become a serious concern across the nation. As more and more people are injured or killed in accidents caused by texting, a number of states, including Colorado, have increased penalties for violations. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, thousands of people are injured in accidents caused by distracted driving every year. To speak with an experienced car accident attorney about your own case, please contact the legal team at McCormick & Murphy, P.C. by calling 888-668-1182 today. You can also reach us by sending us a quick email, or by initiating a live chat with one of our team members.