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Distracted driving in Colorado still an issue

Distracted driving accidents are on the rise, even though new technology in cars and phones aims to curb it. In 2017, Colorado authorities attributed 40 crashes a day to distracted driving. The largest age group susceptible to this type of accident is the 21-30 range accounting for 29.3 percent of all at-fault crashes in the state between 2012 and 2015.

The statistics are sobering and scary. What can drivers do to protect themselves and other motorists from distracted driving accidents?

The "do not disturb" function may help

You may believe you can resist temptation if you simply put your phone down. Unfortunately, studies reveal that people have a difficult time ignoring the phone. This includes telephone calls, texting, social media and email. Any of these activities may divert your eyes for just enough time to cause an accident. Most phones have a "do not disturb" setting that will not allow any new notifications to sound while driving. If that will not keep you from taking a peek, lock your phone in the trunk.

Hands-free is not necessarily the answer

How many times have you passed your exit or turn while taking a call on your speakerphone or through the integrated Bluetooth in your vehicle? Believe it or not, being hands-free is not the answer to staying focused on the road ahead. Becoming absorbed in a conversation is enough to distract your brain from the task at hand. Even though your eyes look straight ahead, your brain is not fully engaged and focused on the road.

Stats do not lie

The study conducted by the Colorado Department of Transportation in 2017 is revealing. Across all age groups, distracted driving is a real problem. A steep 89 percent of drivers surveyed reported driving distracted that week. The distractions vary, but the result is clear: Drivers in Colorado and across the nation have a real problem putting the phone down.

Keeping yourself and others safe on the road is paramount. While putting the phone away may prove difficult, it is worth it to avoid becoming a statistic in next year's study.

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