Colorado legislators are hoping to pass a bill this year that would ban the use of hand-held cell phone devices while driving.
The bill, titled House Bill 1094 and sponsored by Democratic Rep. Claire Levy from Boulder, would allow only the use of hands-free cell phone devices in drivers over the age of 18 and forbid cell phone use altogether among drivers under 18 and school bus drivers.
Levy said she decided to write the bill after she noticed how dangerous operating a motor vehicle became when drivers talk or text on cell phones.
“(I had) growing concern for the way people were driving and completely distracted on their cell phones,” Levy said.
Cell phone use among drivers is extremely common. A Nationwide Insurance poll shows that 82 percent of drivers admit to talking on a cell phone while driving.
“We see it every day,” said Colorado State Patrol spokesman David Hall. “Anybody who has driven more than a mile on a Colorado state highway has seen someone driving and talking on a cell phone in a careless manner.”
According to a study done by the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis, the distraction of cell phones during driving contributes to 636,000 crashes, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths per year. Victims of distracted or negligent drivers must protect their rights and consider hiring a car accident lawyer. A reputable auto accident attorney can help you file for a claim. In addition, an experienced accident lawyer should also be able to guide you throughout the process and increase your chances of getting properly compensated.
Sen. Bob Bacon, a Democrat from Larimer County and co-sponsor of the bill, said the bill has gained support particularly in Fort Collins, where a 9-year-old girl was hit and killed by a driver using her cell phone on Nov. 25, 2008.
“There is a great deal of interest in Fort Collins in reining in the use of cell phones while driving because of accident and death,” Bacon said.
According to Bacon, this tragedy has helped move more Colorado legislators to support the bill.
“We have had bills cell phone use several times in the legislation each time we gain a few more converts,” Bacon said. “Whenever there is a tragic event it heightens the interest and gains us more votes.”
Levy said the people who contacted her about the bill were also very supportive.
“The public seems to really want this,” Levy said.
Hall said the State Patrol supports the bill.
“Drivers too busy talking on their cell phone and texting, they’re endangering everybody,” Hall said. They’re changing lanes without signal; they’re weaving because they’re distracted. All of this can lead to a personal vehicle wrecked during work hours.
Kyle Krickbaum, a sophomore civil engineering major at CSU, said he thinks cell phone use isn’t necessarily to blame, saying that distracted drivers are “going to be bad drivers either way.”
“I don’t think cell phones are the problem,” Krickbaum said.
CU student Paul Evans, a sophomore English major, said he thinks cell phone use while driving should be illegal.
“It keeps your focus off the road, where it should be,” he said.
However, Evans said he could also see the downside of the bill.
“I talk on my cell phone while driving, so (the law) is just inconvenient,” Evans said.
Consequences for violating the law would be fined $50 for the first offense and up to $100 for repeat offenses.
Levy said that if the bill passes, the law would go into effect on Dec. 1 of this year.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer and Copy Editor Julie Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.