Distracted Driving

Don’t Drive Distracted

A woman is sitting on a bike holding a photo of her in the hospital. Driving distracted for just 3 seconds? You almost killed me. Shift into Safe.

Distracted driving is one the leading causes of crashes and fatalities in Colorado. Any behavior that takes your focus away from the road is dangerous. That includes eating, texting, talking on the phone or to a passenger, looking after children or pets, reading, or watching videos. It’s dangerous, but more than 90% of Colorado drivers self-report driving distracted. And we’re seeing that effect on our roads. In 2020, distracted drivers were involved in 10,166 crashes on Colorado’s roads, injuring 1,4476 and killing 68. Unfortunately, many Coloradoans regularly drive distracted to the point that’s it becoming normalized. Not only is driving distracted dangerous, driving while texting is six times more dangerous than drunk driving, according to NHTSA. Don’t drive distracted. Shift into safe.

Our campaign also has this video available in Spanish. Click here to view the Shift into Safe Youtube video in Spanish.

In our latest Distracted Driving campaign, we partnered with Dr. Molly Thiessen, a local doctor, and the survivor of a distracted driving crash, Triny Willerton. With two local voices to champion against distracted driving, the campaign uses mathematics and on-screen graphics to create a simulation, showing how a driver opening a fast food sandwich while driving can take their eyes off the road for 3 seconds, which is long enough to miss 20 cyclists on the road. Triny Willerton was riding her bike when a distracted driver hit her. And he also never saw her. Don’t take your eyes off the road. Whether it’s a phone or food, it can wait. Don’t drive distracted.

Shift into Safe

Shift into Safe is the name of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s traffic safety brand. Its name and mission both encourage all people in Colorado to actively change their mindset and make a conscious decision to pay attention and be safe every time they get behind a wheel. 

Shift into Safe seeks to change Colorado behaviors by using a cross-platform, multimedia marketing campaign to effectively reach drivers and change their behavior. Driven by science and inspired by Colorado, Shift into Safe is determined to make an impact on our roads to save lives, one driver at a time. 

A group of students and families gather at the Lumenati Productions warehouse for the distracted driving video contest celebration event.

Thank you to all who participated in the distracted driving video PSA contest!

In February, the Colorado Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), launched a statewide contest for high school students to create a distracted driving PSA. The contest received 12 entries from students across Colorado, each of which demonstrated creativity, hard work and a compelling message.
After an extensive judging process, we are proud to congratulate our finalists:

  • Kaileen Rudolph — Greeley — 1st place
  • Angel De La Paz — Lamar — 2nd place
  • Noah Reynolds — Denver — 2nd place
  • Adin Serota — Castle Rock — 3rd Place

We thank you all for your time and participation in this contest, and for your continued effort to prevent distracted driving on Colorado roads.

What is Distracted Driving?

Distracted driving is the act of driving while engaged in anything that takes your focus away from the road, including texting, looking after children or pets, talking on the phone or to a passenger, watching videos, eating or reading.

Multitasking is a myth. A person’s attention can switch back and forth between tasks quickly, but your optimal focus cannot be on two tasks at once. When you’re driving distracted, your attention is diverted from the road ahead, slowing reaction time and, with it, the ability to avoid hazards that can result in a crash.

Drop the Distraction decorative image

Distracted Driving in Colorado

In 2020, 10,166 crashes involved a Colorado distracted driver, resulting in 1,476 injuries and 68 deaths. Even with these life-threatening consequences, more than 90% of Colorado drivers self-report driving distracted.

What is CDOT doing about Distracted Driving? Our latest campaign is Distraction Reactions, an effort designed to start shifting social norms by encouraging drivers to think twice before they pick up that phone. 

Distracted Driving Nationwide

Distracted driving claims hundreds of lives each year across the United States. In 2019 alone, 3,142 lives were lost and roughly 400,000 people were injured due to the preventable decision to drive distracted. This includes such behaviors as eating while driving, turning to talk to passengers, using a phone, and more. Visit NHSTA’s Distracted Driving page for information on the national effort to save lives by ending distracted driving.

  • In 2020, 10,166 crashes involved a Colorado distracted driver, resulting in 1,476 injuries and 68 deaths.
  • In CDOT's 2021 annual mail survey of Colorado drivers, in the week prior to the survey
    • 91% of participants reported driving distracted in the past seven days.
    • 54% admitted to reading a message on their phones.
    • Nearly 50% talked on a cell phone while driving.
    • 41% sent a message while driving.

Data bar graph that represents the top distractions reported during fatal crashes in 2022. The bar graph is divided into two columns, with the left-hand column showing the distraction type and the right-hand column showing the percentage of participants having reported the distraction.

Data bar graph that represents fatalities involving distracted drivers from 2011-2022, showing an increase in distracted driving fatalities.