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Colorado proposes phone ban while driving

If you're stopped in Colorado for texting while driving, you may have an easy way out: Claim you were actually playing Candy Crush Saga, Instagramming the sunrise, or creating a Songza station to uplift your morning commute. Although these excuses are facetious and definitely not meant as legal or traffic safety advice, they may be entirely within the realm of current Colorado laws.

While Colorado is one of the many states that ban texting while driving, Democratic Rep. Jovan Melton (representing Aurora) notes that there is no current prohibition on other types of distracted cellphone use. Melton reports that according to data from the Colorado State Patrol, in 2008, almost 5,000 of the roughly 27,200 accidents reported were caused by inattentive drivers. This data represents a cross-section of about 30 percent of car accidents in Colorado.

He also adds that while smartphones are beneficial for keeping people connected, their importance in people's lives can be dangerous while driving. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, twelve states and the District of Columbia already ban all hand-held cellphone use while driving. Before agreeing to support Melton's bill, a Transportation and Energy Committee legislator asked for statistics on accident trends. This Grand Junction lawmaker, Republican Rep. Ray Scott, notes that while he understands it's tempting to look at text messages or emails while driving, hands-free technologies help to keep us safe on the road.

Melton's bill, scheduled for an imminent committee meeting, would prohibit people from using apps on their phone while driving, in addition to texting and making calls. Provisions would be allowed for hands-free devices and emergency calls.

While it's good news that Colorado is taking the dangers of distracted driving seriously, for some auto accident victims, this awareness may be coming too little, too late. Many normally safe drivers can be tempted by the lure of their cellphones, especially during long or tedious commutes. It's easy to think that a quick glance at the screen can't hurt, but in reality, it can even kill.

After an auto accident, a Grand Junction personal injury attorney can help determine whether distracted driving was a contributing factor. Attorneys may work with medical experts, witnesses, insurance claims workers, and others to help determine fault and the extent of damages, and assure that victims or their survivors receive the compensation they deserve.

Source:  The Gazette, "Colorado looks to restrict cellphones in cars" No author given, Mar. 06, 2014

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