While state laws vary greatly across the country, it's fairly well understood that texting and driving is a dangerous habit. Here in Colorado, State and local law enforcement have been cracking down. In addition to more personnel, they are also using more street signs to raise awareness and consciousness.

If you still think you're the exception to the rule, expensive legal repercussions might make you rethink texting and driving and avoid the sometimes horrific consequences of an accident. But what are the actual rules of the road regarding cell phone use?

Image via Flickr by Intel Free Press

What are the Actual Laws?

Texting

Most people simply don't have a clear understanding of the laws against using your smart phones while you are driving. Colorado doesn't take texting and driving lightly; it's a matter of public safety.

Texting is prohibited for all Colorado drivers, regardless of age or experience. The only exception is in the case of an emergency, when a driver "has reason to fear for such person's life or safety or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against such person or another person."

Phone Calls

Talking on your phone is allowed for most drivers. Drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use their cellphones—even with hands-free device—unless they find themselves in certain circumstances:

  • They are in, or need to report a potentially life threatening situation
  • Reporting a fire
  • Reporting an accident in which people have been injured
  • Reporting major road hazards
  • Reporting a reckless, careless, or unsafe driver

Regardless of what is allowed, it's always best to consider pulling onto the shoulder or finding a place to park before using your phone. While making a simple call may not always require as much attention as texting, finding/dialing a number you're not familiar with can be just as big (and dangerous) of a distraction.

Enforcement and Fines

Drivers that are caught texting at the wheel (and/or calling, for certain drivers) the first offense will result in a $50 ticket. After that, you will pay $100 each time you break the law. These are both considered primary laws, meaning an officer can pull you over for that offense. (The CO Seatbelt law is secondary: you can't be pulled over for not wearing your seatbelt, but if you are pulled over for another violation, the charge can be added.) A law enforcement official must see you texting (or calling) in order for you to be convicted of breaking the law, however.

Shocking Statistics

The statistics surrounding texting and driving accidents are extremely eye opening. According to the National Safety Council, there are approximately 1.6 million accidents and 330,000 personal injuries each year due to cell phone use while driving. Sadly, teens die at a rate of 11 per day due to texting. And the most shocking part? This accounts for 25% of all car accidents in the United States!

This is an absolutely staggering rate when you compare it with alcohol impaired drivers, who experience fatalities due to car accidents at a rate of 30 per day. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration claims that texting while driving is the same as driving after having four alcoholic beverages! They also state that texting while driving raises your chances of having an accident by 23 times. It's no wonder why: texting while driving takes your eyes off the road, slows your reaction time, and distracts you from other motorists and road hazards.

Staying Safe

The saddest part about car accidents is that the vast majority of them are easily preventable. Every driver on the road is responsible for doing everything they can to minimize the chances of a car accident. Some parents even go as far as requiring their teenagers to turn off their phones before they start the engine.

Is one text message worth your life or the life of another? Remember to use good judgement and refrain from texting while driving.

Contact Rogers & Moss for your free, no-risk, consultation.