In 2015, 17 traffic fatalities were attributed to the usage of mobile devices. Governor Hickenlooper signed new legislation that will increase penalties for text messaging while driving from $50 to $300. In addition, four points will be added to the offender’s driving record. This law was largely influenced by an incident where Athina Munoz was texting while driving when she struck and killed two people, leading to a vehicular homicide conviction. The law regarding texting has been clarified to some extent, as it states that texting is not to be done in a “careless or imprudent manner”.
States all across the nation have been implementing laws to combat the “epidemic” of distracted driving. Maile Gray, the Director of Drive Smart Colorado, says that the higher penalties for first-time offenders should provide for safer roadways. Mike Phibbs, from the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, explained that the law is not centered on those drivers texting while at stop lights or pulled over on the roadside. Senator Owen Hill opposed the original bill, but voted for its passage once the enforcement standards were softened. Hill explained that it shouldn’t be a crime for someone to text their spouse when running late.
Law enforcement can issue a violation when they see a driver typing on the phone. The officer also must observe an example of carelessness in operating the vehicle such as swerving or speeding. Most violations will be in conjunction with another traffic offense, such as a failure to use a turn signal or lane violations. Colorado State Trooper Josh Lewis wants to remind drivers that using mobile devices while driving is unsafe because you are dividing your attention.
Sending or reading text messages takes an average of four seconds, which doesn’t sound very long; however, when traveling at 50 mph, you are moving a good distance in those few seconds. Colorado transportation reports indicate that roughly 16% of auto accidents with an injury involve a distracted driver. Forty-six states currently have laws restricting the usage of mobile devices for text messaging while driving. Officers are scheduled to undergo training before enforcement of the new penalties.
If the careless or reckless actions of another driver have made you an injury victim, you likely are eligible to pursue rightful compensation. The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal is focused on holding negligent parties in Colorado accountable through civil actions. Contact the office today at (303) 825-2223 for a complimentary consultation.