For the second time in as many years, Colorado legislators are attempting to ban all handheld cellphone use while driving. Currently, it is not illegal to use a cellphone while driving in Colorado unless a person is “driving recklessly,” a rather arbitrary distinction that may apply to anything from erratic lane changes to unusual stopping and starting patterns, but enforcement relies on drivers endangering others.
Of course, the argument that using a cellphone while driving in and of itself endangers everyone else on the road, but Colorado has chosen to be reactionary instead of cautious in this area of law. Sadly, Colorado sees about 40 crashes every day related exclusively to distracted driving.
Put the Phone Down
The new law would ban adults from using a handheld cellphone while operating a vehicle. It would still allow calls to be placed when the car is at a complete stop or for emergency services, but all other use would be illegal.
If passed, this law would make driving while using a handheld cellphone a primary offense, meaning you could be pulled over just for using a phone. Proposed penalties are:
- First Offense: $300, four points from your license
- Second Offence: $500, six points from your license
- Third and Subsequent Offences: $750 and eight points from your license
According to an article in Westword, sponsors of the bill wanted it to be "broad enough to anticipate future devices, including video devices, gaming devices, texting devices, anything,” in the hopes of crafting legislation that will be useful well into the future.
As well-intentioned as this bill may be, it is still problematic. It relies on one of the biggest myths being pushed today, that hands-free technologies are safe to use while driving. They most certainly are not.
Technologies like onboard infotainment systems and BlueTooth allow drivers to answer calls and send messages without having to touch a device. However, several studies have shown that the cognitive distraction these devices cause is equal to or higher than the distraction caused by handheld devices. In other words, banning handheld cellphone use and encouraging hands-free electronic use is a zero-sum proposition. There is no demonstrable benefit from using one over the other. Neither behavior is safe.
Just Because it Isn’t Illegal…
It is not currently illegal to drive while texting in Colorado. Even if this law passes, using onboard electronics will remain legal. This means a distracted driver may not be breaking any laws when he or she slams their vehicle into yours. However, even when a law hasn’t been broken, distracted drivers can be held liable for the damages they cause, and Jonathan Sar and Sean Leventhal are here to help victims of these drivers get justice.
If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed by a distracted driver, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Call our Denver office at 720-667-3030 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.