Every day, thousands of distracted drivers travel the roads of Colorado, putting others at serious risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 lives were lost in accidents involving distracted drivers in 2020. Distracted driving has become more of a problem over the last couple of decades as cellphones, smartphones and infotainment systems have boomed in popularity. It is critical to combat distracted driving and be aware of this problem to protect yourself and others.
Why Are Distracted Drivers So Dangerous?
Distracted driving is one of the deadliest driver behaviors. It refers to operating a motor vehicle without paying attention to the driving task. Driving safely requires a driver’s full attention. Any amount of attention taken away from the driving task can diminish the driver’s ability to correctly and safely control the car. Many issues contribute to the danger that distracted drivers present, including:
- Lack of awareness. If a driver’s attention is on a cellphone or another source of distraction, it’s not on the road. This inattention and lack of awareness can make a driver miss changing roadway situations, such as a red light, stopped car or crossing pedestrian.
- Decreased brake time. Driver distraction reduces reaction times, resulting in a longer pause between the driver recognizing a hazard and hitting the brakes. This hesitation can be enough to cause a vehicle collision.
- Increased risk of car accidents. In general, distracted driving increases the risk of car accidents in Colorado. Anything that takes a driver’s hands off of the wheel, eyes away from the road or mind away from the driving task can inhibit the driver’s abilities.
Distracted drivers cannot manage the tasks that are essential to safely control a motor vehicle. Distractions can make it impossible for a driver to notice hazards and react in time to prevent an accident. Distractions increase the risk of speeding, running stop signs and red lights, making an unsafe lane change, cutting someone off or failing to yield, and other dangerous traffic infractions.
What Can I Do to Minimize Distracted Driving?
It is your responsibility as a motor vehicle driver to avoid distraction. This starts with turning your phone on driving mode or do not disturb. Texting is considered the most dangerous type of distracted driving because it diverts a driver in three ways: visually, manually and cognitively. Use the special settings available on your phone to temporarily turn off notifications while you’re driving. Never text, use social media, send emails, watch videos, take pictures or video chat while driving.
Once your phone is no longer a distraction, consciously focus your attention on the driving task. Make an effort to keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel at all times. This means avoiding distractions such as talking to passengers, dealing with kids in the back seat, fiddling with the radio, looking at a GPS, reading billboards, grooming yourself and eating fast food. It is your legal and ethical obligation to avoid distracted driving, even if this means pulling over rather than multitasking behind the wheel.
What Are My Options If I’ve Been Hit by a Distracted Driver?
Distracted driving may not be a crime in Colorado, but it is a tort or civil wrongdoing. This means that if a driver causes a car accident while distracted, he or she can be held civilly liable for the crash. As the victim of a distracted driver, you have the right to file a claim in pursuit of financial compensation for your medical bills and losses from his or her insurance company.
A claim starts with reporting the crash to the distracted driver’s insurer. From there, you should contact a distracted driving attorney to help you negotiate with an auto insurance company for fair financial compensation. Although most car accident cases in Colorado end in settlements, a trial is a possibility. An attorney can represent you in court. Your lawyer can further help you understand your legal options if you’ve been hit by a distracted driver.