42 Crashes a Day: CDOT releases latest data and new Distracted Driving campaign

Traffic Safety Pulse News

More than 90 percent of Coloradans surveyed by CDOT admitted to driving distracted weekly

In a 2019 survey of Colorado drivers conducted by the CDOT, 90 percent of Coloradans admitted to driving distracted daily. Distracted driving is one of the biggest threats to safety on Colorado’s roads, causing thousands of crashes each year. As part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, CDOT is launching a new awareness campaign with the goal of changing this dangerous behavior by focusing on the stigma around distracted driving. According to the 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index from the AAA Foundation, over 95% of drivers in the United States view reading or typing a text/email on a hand-held cellphone while driving to be very or extremely dangerous. Yet the latest data from CDOT shows:

  • 15,673 crashes involved a Colorado distracted driver in 2018, amounting to an average of 42 crashes a day.
  • Overall, 53 (6%) of the 890 drivers in a fatal crash in 2018 were distracted.
    • 17% of the 81 drivers aged 15-20 in a fatal crash were distracted, the highest percentage of distracted drivers for any age group in fatal crashes.

With increasing numbers of Coloradans beginning to leave their homes following the governor’s Stay-at-Home order, CDOT is finding unique ways to remind drivers to stay focused on the road. In its latest campaign, CDOT asks the question: if drivers saw how others around them reacted to their distracted driving, would they change their behavior? Titled Distraction Reactions, CDOT’s campaign shines a light on the impact and impression distracted driving has on those around us by harnessing the power of human reactions and social stigma. 

“When you get behind the wheel, you’re not only in control of your own safety, your actions impact the safety of everyone around you,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director at CDOT. “Just as we are all doing our part to protect each other during this pandemic, we need to protect each other on the roads as well and that means eliminating dangerous distractions.”

CDOT’s goal with its new campaign is to highlight the stigma around distracted driving and shift people’s behavior towards safer driving. The reactions of others can be a powerful deterrent to negative behavior, and CDOT hopes to highlight those reactions to benefit the safety of everyone on the road.

“Distracted drivers do not often see the risk of their behavior until it’s too late,” said Lew. “We want to continue to remind motorists that they are putting more than just their own lives at risk when they drive distracted.”

View the Distraction Reactions campaign PSA video and materials.

CDOT also continues to encourage the use of phone features and apps that help drivers turn off distractions, such as enabling “Do Not Disturb While Driving” mode on iPhones which blocks incoming text messages and notifications while driving. Android phones offer a similar function, and there are also other third-party apps designed to achieve the same goal regardless of the type of phone a person uses.

For more information about distracted driving in Colorado and to learn more about the Distraction Reactions campaign, visit distracted.codot.gov.