Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager
42 crashes per day involve distracted drivers in Colorado
CDOT campaign highlights public reactions during Distracted Driving Awareness Month
STATEWIDE — As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19 in Colorado, more people are driving. Unfortunately, that means the return of more distracted drivers on our roadways. Distracted driving is one of the biggest threats to safety on Colorado’s roads, causing over 15,000 crashes each year in the state. That is an average of 42 crashes every day.
In response, CDOT is joining a nationwide effort in April during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. During the month, CDOT’s Distraction Reactions campaign will be on display at 48 coffee shops throughout the state with coffee cups warning about the dangers of distracted driving. The campaign asks drivers to consider: if you saw how others reacted to your distracted driving, would that change your behavior? The goal of this campaign is to focus on the social stigma of distracted driving and push drivers to reconsider their behavior behind the wheel. CDOT will also take to social media with its distracted driving safety messages.
“Distracted drivers do not often see the risk of their behavior until it’s too late,” said Darrell Lingk, Highway Safety Office director at CDOT. “While the risks associated with distracted driving are well documented, studies show the majority of Coloradans still choose to engage in this behavior, which presents a danger to everyone who uses our roads.”
According to data from CDOT, crashes involving distracted drivers have been on the rise, increasing from 13,332 in 2012 to 15,143 in 2019. Of those crashes in 2019, 4,361 people were injured and 39 people lost their lives. Despite the rising occurrence of crashes, a 2020 survey of Colorado drivers shows that 92% admitted to driving distracted weekly, an increase from the 90% who reported driving distracted in 2019.
During April CDOT is partnering with victims and their families who have been directly impacted by distracted drivers. In the next couple weeks CDOT will unveil a display that allows the public to hear their stories of grief. Standing behind the wheel of a fabricated dashboard of a car, individuals will look through the windshield and see what they should be focused on while driving: real people, with real lives. A screen behind the windshield will highlight the stories of four distracted driving victims, each of whom has been personally impacted by the actions of a distracted driver.
“When you reach for a phone or turn your attention away from the road, you aren’t just risking your own safety, you are risking the safety of everyone on the road with you,” said Sam Cole, Traffic Safety Manager at CDOT. “We want to continue to remind motorists that they are putting more than just their own lives at risk when they drive distracted.”
For more information about distracted driving in Colorado and to learn more about the Distraction Reactions campaign, visit: distracted.codot.gov.
CDOT’s Whole System-Whole Safety program has one simple mission — to get everyone home safely. Our approximately 3,000 employees work tirelessly to reduce the rate and severity of crashes and improve the safety of all modes of transportation. The department manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway, more than 3,000 bridges and 35 mountain passes. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also operates Bustang, the state-owned interregional express bus service. Gov. Jared Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.
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