Driving dumbness: New study looks at distracted driving
To those of you who admit to taking your eyes off the road to read your phone while you’re behind wheel of a vehicle, the rest of us have a respectful request: Knock it off.
A new statewide driver survey finds that almost a quarter of Coloradans admit they read the occasional text, email or social post on their phones while driving.
And that’s not all:
• Nearly 40 percent of adult drinkers drove within two hours of drinking alcohol.
• Pickup truck drivers are less likely to buckle up, especially on local roads.
The Colorado Department of Transportation compiled the data from 845 surveys. The survey is supposed to give us a fix on Coloradans’ attitudes and behaviors when we’re behind the wheel.
Our attitudes could use some adjustment, the survey found.
“This survey provides us with a good but disturbing snapshot of what is actually happening on Colorado roadways,” said Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “It will help us design and implement our traffic safety campaigns to address these dangerous behaviors.”
Last year, 607 people died on Colorado roadways, up 24 percent in the past two years.
At the same time, statewide seatbelt use decreased from 85 percent to 84 percent last year — well below the national average of 90 percent.
Unbuckled fatalities accounted for nearly half of all passenger vehicle deaths, CDOT’s data found.
Alcohol related-fatalities contributed to nearly one-third of the state’s traffic fatality total.
• The number of people who drive over the speed limit is increasing — 69 percent of respondents admit to speeding in the 2016 survey, up from 65 percent in 2014.
• Fourty-five percent of Coloradans said they sped some of the time and 24 percent sped all or most of the time.
If you’re primary vehicle is a pickup truck, then you’re less likely wear seatbelts on local roads 73 percent of the time. On the other hand, you’re more likely to wear them on highways than the national average, 91 percent.
A vast majority, 65 percent, said that refusing or forgetting to use your seatbelt should be enough reason for police to pull you over and give you a fine.
Most people who did not buckle up thought a reminder, such as a buzzer, would help them remember to buckle up.
Crash victims in rural communities are especially vulnerable since they are often hours from the closest trauma center, Lingk said.
“About half of all people killed in passenger vehicle traffic crashes in Colorado last year were unbuckled,” Lingk said.
Fines for not buckling up start at $65. Parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can be hit with a minimum fine of $82.
“Seatsbelts are your best line of defense when you get in a crash,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It’s impossible to predict when a crash is going to happen, so it’s important to wear a seat belt every time you’re in a vehicle.”
• Twenty-two percent said they had read a message on a device and 15 percent wrote a message on a device while driving at least sometime in the week before the survey.
• Sixty-two percent reported at least sometimes selecting entertainment on an iPod, CD player, radio or other device while driving in the week prior to the survey.
• Thirty-eight percent of respondents who drank alcoholic beverages drove a motor vehicle within two hours of drinking.
• Fifty-seven percent of those who used marijuana drove a motor vehicle within two hours after consuming marijuana.
• On average, those who drove after drinking did so on 2.8 of 30 days.
• On average, those who drove after consuming marijuana did so on 11.7 of 30 days.
• Seventy-three percent would feel comfortable driving after having one or two drinks in a two-hour period.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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