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Nearly 90 percent of Colorado drivers admit driving distracted

If you have ever noticed how many Colorado drivers are on their phones at red lights, in traffic or while driving down the road, you may have firsthand knowledge of how much of a problem distracted driving is on state roadways.

Per CBS Denver, the distracted driving problem is so widespread across the state that some type of distracted driving behavior was a factor in 16 percent of all Colorado road fatalities in 2016. Additionally, 89 percent of all drivers who took part in a recent study by the Colorado Department of Transportation reported driving distracted within the last week, further highlighting the importance of increased awareness and enforcement.

By the numbers

In the last two years, the number of Colorado traffic fatalities has risen 24 percent, and there is undoubtedly a link between the uptick in distracted driving and the number of people losing their lives on state roadways. While many Coloradans freely admit that engaging in distracted driving behaviors behind the wheel is dangerous, many also admit to taking some of these dangerous actions themselves.

For example, a quarter of all motorists surveyed reported drafting and sending a text message while behind the wheel within the last week, while 40 percent of drivers acknowledged reading messages sent to them on their phones while at the vehicle's controls. Another 53 percent admitted to using a cellphone while driving, while 54 percent admitted to using a hands-free cellphone, which still serves as a potential distraction.

Types of driver distraction

Any action that diverts a motorist's visual, cognitive or manual attention away from the immediate task at hand constitutes distracted driving, but behaviors that demand more than one type of attention become increasingly dangerous. For example, using an in-vehicle navigation system while driving demands visual, cognitive and manual attention, making this a tremendously dangerous task to take on while behind the wheel.

While Colorado has taken strides to help combat distracted driving by increasing fines and license points for offenders, time will tell if such measures are proving effective.

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