April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April 01, 2024

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Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes and deaths in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). Whether a person is distracted by looking away from the road, taking their hands off the wheel or thinking about something other than driving, engaging in any activity that diverts your full attention away from driving can have dangerous consequences. In honor of April being Distracted Driving Awareness Month, let’s review the facts about distracted driving in Colorado and review tips for preventing this practice in your life.

According to a 2021 CDOT survey of Colorado drivers, 91% of participants reported driving distracted, with 54% admitting to reading messages on their phones and nearly 50% reporting that they talk on a cellphone while driving. While cellphones are a major cause of distracted driving, they are not the only source. Looking at directions, adjusting the stereo, eating or drinking, or even participating in an involved discussion can all divert your attention away from the road and lead to mistakes.

The Colorado State Patrol estimates that distracted driving leads to more than 15,000 crashes every year, with an average of 42 crashes per day. In 2020, CDOT reported that 1,476 people were injured and 68 people were killed in cases of distracted driving.

Many distractions that you may face on the road are avoidable or can be minimized. First, putting aside electronic distractions can greatly decrease disruptions you may face on the road. Whether handheld or hands-free, your cellphone should not be used except in emergencies. Consider pulling over and parking your car when you need to send a text message or take a call. Putting your phone in the glove box of your car is a helpful trick if you find yourself constantly reaching for your phone when behind the wheel. Next, get your GPS, seats and sound system situated before you begin your drive. Looking away from the road for even a few seconds to adjust your radio volume can have drastic consequences if an accident occurs.

While driving with passengers such as friends, children or pets, make sure they are secured before you begin driving. If passengers need your urgent attention, pull over rather than turning around or attempting to multitask. Similarly, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip. Messy foods can be difficult to manage and require both your mental attention and at least one of your hands, decreasing your ability to react quickly in case of an accident. In general, keep your multitasking outside of the car. While the car may seem like an OK place to call friends or finish your makeup at a stoplight while running late for work, focusing on the road and other drivers around you requires your undivided attention.

It is never too late to develop good driving habits and take action to eliminate the distractions you experience on the road. This month, and every month, make an effort to avoid distractions while driving and make Colorado roads a safer place. If you would like more information about distracted driving, contact the Trauma and Injury Prevention Program at injuryprevention@dhha.org.