Distracted Driving On The Rise In Colorado

CDOT is launching a distracted driving campaign in correlation with ‘Distracted Driving Awareness Month’ this April.

Video Transcript

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: Distracted driving continues to be a growing issue, and April is actually Distracted Driving Awareness Month. So joining me now is Sam Cole with CDOT. Sam, tell us a little bit about just how big of an issue distracted driving is.

SAM COLE: Well, in Colorado, distracted driving associated with about 15,000 crashes every year. That's 43 crashes a day that involve distracted drivers. So it is a clear and present danger on our roadways.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: I was looking at some of your data on the press release and it shows that young adults are mostly responsible for some of these crashes, but really, every age group is responsible for distracted driving crashes. How dangerous is it to take your eyes off the road for even a second?

SAM COLE: Yeah, well, even taking your eyes off the road for two seconds to send a quick message, that's traveling the equivalent of half of a football field. And a lot can happen in that amount of time. A child could dart out in front of you, a car could swerve in front of you. You've got one job to do when you're driving, and that's to drive. I know we're all busy, we love to multitask, but multitasking is something that should never take place when you're behind the wheel of a vehicle.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: What are some of the biggest issues of distracted driving? Is it texting, having passengers, kind of accumulation of everything?

SAM COLE: Yeah, yeah. It's the phone. I mean, we see people looking down, taking their eyes off the road, taking their hands off the wheel and sending a text or answering a phone call or chatting on the phone. Anything, distracted driving is defined as anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel or your mind off the task of driving. And the phone does all three. So that's why the phone is particularly dangerous. And yes, you're right, we do see it across all age groups, but most of these crashes do involve people in their 20s.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: That's interesting. So you guys have a campaign going on. Since April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, tell us what that campaign is and how you've partnered up with the local coffee shops.

SAM COLE: Right. So it's called Distraction Reactions. It's alarming when you look over and you see somebody driving without looking in front of them, looking where they're going. And we've all seen that. and it's really something that can be very spooky and dangerous. So we created this series of videos called Distraction Reactions--

--Showing some of those reactions that people have in order to kind of push that stigma against people who drive distracted. And yes, we are partnering with coffee shops across the state. We've developed coffee sleeves that have the picture of somebody's reaction, and also a reminder that 42 crashes a day involve distracted drivers.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: Is there anything we haven't talked about that you want drivers in Colorado to be thinking about?

SAM COLE: It's so easily preventable when it comes to distracted driving. We all do it, but it's so preventable. One easy thing you can do is turn on the do not disturb while driving mode on your phone. Just go to your settings, and then somebody that's trying to get in touch with you will get a message back that you're driving. If you just can't kick the habit, throw that phone in the backseat of the car, throw it in the glove compartment, do anything but get on that phone when you're driving.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: Great. Thank you so much for all this important information, Sam, we really appreciate it.

SAM COLE: My pleasure.

MAKENZIE O'KEEFE: We'll have more information on tips and information on the stats for distracted driving on our website, cbsdenver.com.