By: Susan Dane
Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving (CORD) was formed when our friends, Brian and Jacquie Lehner, were killed on their motorcycle in February 2016 in a head-on collision by a woman who was reading a text message when her car drifted across the double yellow lines and hit Brian and Jacquie. CORD’s mission is to have the fines increased for texting while driving, to increase the enforcement of the fines and to provide education to increase the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.
CORD wanted something positive to come out of Brian and Jacquie’s deaths. Last year, we helped Senator Lois Court pass SB18-027, which increased the fines for texting from $50/1 point to $300/4 points, which was a good first step, but some of the language that was added to the Bill made it difficult to enforce and issue tickets. CORD felt strongly that a “hands free only” Bill was needed to further incent people to put their phones down and concentrate on driving.
This year, SB 18-049, Use of Electronic Mobile Devices While Driving, was introduced to the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee in January and was unfortunately killed. Organizations supporting this Bill included ABATE, AAA, Colorado Dept of Transportation, Colorado State Troopers, Biker Down, Colorado Bikers, Bicycle Colorado, Bike Blue, The O’Sullivan Law Firm, Colorado Motor Carriers Association, Rocky Mountain Insurance Info Association, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and some personal testimonies from people who have been involved in accidents caused by texting while driving. With 15 other states already having hands free laws, we think it is a matter of time before Colorado enacts this law.
There was another Bill that was introduced this session, HB 18-1272, which addressed distracted driving from a technology angle. This type of network-level technology needs carrier participation to provide an opportunity for customers to choose this service. It is a consumer-driven product, used on a voluntary basis, so it provides freedom of choice for the consumer. This technology would provide business owners, parents and others who own vehicles and/or mobile phones/devices access to a distracted driving tool that would reduce commercial liability, reduce vehicle accidents and injuries and save lives. It is another step to make Colorado roads safer for everyone.
These legislative efforts are most successful when our supporters, and their supporters, call and email the legislators to request their support when these Bills are introduced. It’s amazing the power we have when we join forces. The CORD Facebook page posts the progress that happens at the legislative level and media reports of interest related to distracted driving. Please Like/Follow our Facebook page to receive updates on our legislative efforts and how you can help.
Driving is not a multi-tasking activity. And I don’t know about you, but when I learned to drive, I didn’t have a cell phone. I also remember growing up in a house with one rotary dial phone on the kitchen wall with a 30-foot stretched out cord. And I survived. In this time of continually evolving technology, young people are getting addicted to their cell phones before they learn how to drive. We have become a culture of instant gratification. When our phones beep, we must look at them right away. Please, please don’t text and drive. The life you save could be your own. Or mine.