COLORADO SPRINGS — Of the 302 serious injuries in distracted driving crashes in 2020, 205 injuries involved drivers who were using their phone just prior to the crash, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
New data from CDOT showed that among all types of distracted driving, the use of a phone leads to most serious injuries in crashes.
In 2020, more than 10,000 drivers were involved in distracted driving crashes on Colorado roads. Nearly 1,500 people were injured and 68 lives were lost as a result. This is a 74% increase in fatalities from 2019. According to the study, more than 90% of Colorado drivers self-report driving distracted.
To remind drivers of the dangers of distracted driving, CDOT is launching an effort to bring together students, schools, business partners and drivers to take a stand against distracted driving by signing the Defeat Distracted Driving Pledge.
“Distracted driving is more than an awareness month or single campaign, it is an ongoing safety issue that needs to be addressed year-round on our roadways,” said Darrel Lingk, Highway Safety Office director at CDOT. “This effort will keep the conversation going until all drivers understand that picking up the phone to send a text or make a call can be deadly behind the wheel.”
CDOT has placed signs in high schools, rec centers, shopping centers and other business parking lots to remind drivers to put down the phone, remove distractions and focus on driving. Drivers are invited to sign the pledge, vowing to never drive distracted behind the wheel. The school or organization with the most individual pledges at the end of the month will receive a permanent distracted driving sign to place on their property.
“Despite what they may think, people don’t really have the ability to multitask when they drive,” said Sam Cole, CDOT communications manager. “By not fully focusing on driving, you are at a disadvantage when it comes to avoiding unexpected hazards on our roadways, such as a vehicle stopping suddenly or a child darting out in front of you.”
CDOT will continue to raise awareness of this critical issue year-round through digital message boards on highways, social media posts, and outreach through its statewide grant programs. Distracted driving information in all programs targeting teen drivers will include instructions on how to set up the “Do Not Disturb” and silence notifications options on phones. In addition, police departments will focus on distracted driving enforcement while on patrol. CDOT confirmed that high-visibility enforcement is a reliable and cost-effective means of combating distracted driving.
For more information about distracted driving in Colorado, or to make the pledge, visit distracted.codot.gov.