Deaths on Colorado’s roadways jumped 11 percent in 2016 and distracted driving is a leading cause.
Senator Lois Court and Representative Jovan Melton have introduced legislation to increase Colorado’s penalties for texting while driving. Currently, the fine for texting while driving is $50 and one point assessed against the violator’s driver’s license for a first offense, and a $100 fine and one point assessed against the violator’s driver’s license for a second or subsequent offense. SB-27 increases the penalty to a $500 fine and five points for a first offense and a $750 fine and six points for a second or subsequent offense.
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of traffic injuries and fatalities. In 2009, Colorado passed legislation outlawing texting while driving in response to a distracted driver who tragically killed a Fort Collins girl who was riding her bike.
Unfortunately, the existing penalties for a behavior that can have such high consequences do not seem to be much of a deterrent. Colorado has some of the lowest texting while driving fines in the U.S. Deaths on Colorado’s roadways jumped about 11 percent in 2016 to 605, a total that includes a 15-year-high number of pedestrians (84) and bicyclists (16) killed. In January, Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Shailen Bhatt blamed the surge in crashes on an “epidemic of distracted driving” (Denver Post).
Legislation has passed the Colorado Senate and will be acted on by the House Finance Committee on April 3rd!