According to distraction.gov, the federal government’s website for distracted driving, drivers who text or use hand-held devices are four times more likely to be involved in an accident. Although this fact has long been circulated in the media, it would seem that the threat of a car accident is not enough for many people to put down their phones while behind the wheel. However, the results of a recent study may make them want to rethink their position.
According to the study, published in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, texting while driving is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level that is twice the legal limit.
To conduct the study, researchers from several universities compared texting while driving and drunk driving by using driving simulators over a two-day period. One group of participants was intoxicated with a blood alcohol level over the legal limit. The other group was issued a cellphone with headphones and a microphone to simulate hands-free operation. The groups were put into the driving simulator and were tasked with keeping their virtual vehicle within its lane at a speed of 37 to 50 miles-per-hour.
When the group with cellphones was merely having an uninvolved hands-free conversation, they drove fairly well, like someone with a blood alcohol level well under the legal limit. Once the conversation became more involved and taxing, however, the cellphone group was not always able to drive well; they drove with the skill of someone at the legal limit. Finally, once the participants were required to text while driving, they drove comparably to the group that was over the legal limit.
Colorado law and distracted driving
As studies warning about the dangers of distracted driving pile up, many states have passed laws prohibiting certain kinds of cellphone use while driving. Under Colorado law, it is illegal for young drivers under age 18 to use a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle.
Additionally Colorado is among the states that have passed bans on texting while driving for drivers of all ages. For those convicted of a first offense, a fine of up to $50 may be imposed. For second or subsequent violations, the fine can go as high as $100.
In addition to the criminal fines, Colorado drivers who text while driving can face civil liability. Under Colorado law, texting while behind the wheel can constitute negligence. Individuals who are injured by negligent drivers can hold him or her liable for expenses flowing from the accident such as present and future medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost wages.
If you or a loved one have been injured because of a careless or inattentive driver, contact an experienced Denver car accident attorney to learn more about your right to compensation.