In the past twelve months, Syracuse and Hartford have engaged in intensive efforts to keep drivers focused on the road. The federal government has been paying special attention: according to Department of Transportation estimates, some five and a half thousand deaths are caused annually by distracted drivers, a grisly statistic that could be lowered if other areas are able to duplicate the success seen in both cities.

Enforcement, Education

In Syracuse and Hartford, it is illegal to text while driving or to talk on a handheld cell phone while driving. Law enforcement authorities in the two cities have issued almost 20,000 citations for these violations over the last year in conjunction with an intensive public education campaign warning drivers about the dangers of using handheld electronic devices behind the wheel.

Research funded in part by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that the special programs have paid off. Since the anti-distracted driving campaign began, texting and handheld cell phone use behind the wheel has fallen by a third in Syracuse. The results in Hartford are even more encouraging: more than a 50 percent drop in drivers using handheld phones and a 75 percent decline in texting.

Room for Improvement in Colorado Law

Since 2009, Colorado has had a statewide ban on texting while driving. Talking on a handheld cell phone, however, is not illegal for most drivers; only drivers under the age of 18 or those with any type of instruction permit are prohibited from using mobile communication devices.

Compared to Syracuse or Hartford, Colorado distracted driving laws are generally not as strongly enforced. For instance, in the first five months of the state’s texting ban, the Colorado State Patrol issued just 90 tickets for texting while driving.

Although Colorado lawmakers have taken some steps to alleviate the dangers of distracted driving, following the example set by Syracuse and Hartford could mean more lives saved. Drivers talking on a phone are four times more likely to be involved in an accident; Colorado law could be modified to restrict handheld cell phone use. More intensive enforcement and public awareness initiatives may also lead to safer roads.

Whatever developments are seen in the law, distracted driving is unlikely to be fully eradicated anytime soon. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, contact a local attorney today to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

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