Troopers track link between cell phones, incidents
GRAND JUNCTION ” Information being gathered by the Colorado State Patrol could provide ammunition for a bill that would bar adult drivers from talking on cell phones without handsfree devices.
Last year, the State Patrol began tracking incidents in which cell phone use contributed to traffic infractions. The agency has long tracked whether factors such as speed, alcohol, medical conditions, careless driving and sleepiness contributed to a crash or traffic violation.
The State Patrol previously lobbied for legislation to restrict drivers’ use of cell phones.
A measure (House Bill 1094) that would ban motorists from using handheld cell phones has been approved by one legislative committee and has been sent to another.
Trooper Ron Greasley said he recently pulled over a driver for not signaling. He added the stop to the database because the man was using his cell phone.
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“We would prefer it that people use both hands to drive,” Greasley said.
The bill by state Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, would ban teen drivers and school bus and taxi drivers from using cell phones to talk or send text messages.
On-duty police officers, firefighters and the drivers of emergency vehicles would be exempt from her proposed ban.
Last year, 9-year-old Erica Forney was killed in Fort Collins while riding a bike after an SUV drifted into the bike lane. Police believe the driver was talking on a cell phone.
The driver has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor careless driving resulting in death and must write an apology to the victim’s family.
“It’s unfortunate when people start losing their lives,” Greasley said.
If the bill is approved, Greasley said there likely would be a grace period when troopers would warn, but not ticket, motorists.
Six states ” California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington ” and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held cell phones behind the wheel, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Seventeen states and the district restrict or ban cell phone use by new drivers.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com