More than half of Colorado drivers report being often or always distracted behind the wheel

News Release

March 30, 2022 - Statewide Traffic Safety - CDOT kicks off Distracted Driving Awareness Month with awareness campaign

View the Spanish Version here

Statewide — In a survey of adult Colorado drivers conducted in 2021, the Colorado Department of Transportation found that 91% of drivers had driven while distracted at least once in the past week. More than half of those drivers said they were “often” or “always” distracted when driving. Such distractions included eating, talking on a cell phone or selecting entertainment on a device.

The start of April marks the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. During April CDOT is launching a public education campaign that encourages people to not use cell phones when driving.

“Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes on Colorado roads,” said Darrell Lingk, Highway Safety Office director at CDOT. “Yet, we still see Coloradans trying to multitask behind the wheel. We are committed to enforcing safety and urge all drivers to drop the distraction and just drive.”

In 2020, distracted drivers were involved in 10,166 crashes on Colorado roads, resulting in 1,476 injuries and 68 fatalities. More than half of those fatalities occurred in just six Colorado counties: Cheyenne County, Adams County, Weld County, Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Denver County. CDOT will emphasize this critical danger in an awareness campaign that asks drivers to consider if they saw how others reacted to their distracted driving, would they change their own behavior?

Top Distractions Reported Last Week Graph

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month Social posting graphic - woman driving distracted

CDOT defines distracted driving as the act of driving while engaged in anything that takes your focus away from the road, including texting, selecting entertainment on a device, looking after children or pets, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating or reading. Each of these can be categorized as a cognitive, manual, or visual distraction or some combination of the three:

  • Cognitive Distraction: The mental workload associated with a task that involves thinking about something other than driving.
  • Manual Distraction: Tasks that require the driver to take a hand off the steering wheel to do something else.
  • Visual: Tasks that require the driver to look away from the roadway.

According to CDOT’s 2021 Driving Behavior Survey of 600 drivers across the state, the most common distractions mentioned were eating food and drinking beverages (83% of participants), selecting entertainment on a device (75% of participants) and talking on a cell phone (nearly 50%). Additionally, drivers often admitted to texting while behind the wheel — 41% had sent a message, whereas 54% had read a message while actively behind the wheel.

Fatalities involving a distracted driving 2011- 2020

“We want to emphasize that multitasking just doesn’t work,” said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It just doesn’t. When you pick up a cell phone or your food or change a song, your focus shifts from the road. And that can get you into a crash, putting your life and the lives of others at risk. It’s just not worth it.”

Adult drivers in Colorado are prohibited from manual data entry and transmission on a cell phone (i.e., to send a text message or browse the internet) while behind the wheel. Any driver under 18 years of age is prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. The prohibition includes phone calls, text messaging, or similar forms of manual data entry and transmission.

For more information about distracted driving in Colorado and to learn more about Distraction Reactions, visit