Ramblin' Man: Distracted? If you're driving you shouldn't be

April 5, 2014
photo - Gazette reporter Garrison Wells Tuesday, November 27, 2012. The Gazette, Mark Reis
Gazette reporter Garrison Wells Tuesday, November 27, 2012. The Gazette, Mark Reis 

April is "Distracted Driving Awareness Month."

Says the Colorado Department of Transportation: "Lose the blindfold."

"The only thing less predictable than Colorado weather in the spring is a driver texting alongside you," CDOT says. "They might as well be wearing a blindfold."

Sending a text while behind the wheel, CDOT says, "is like wearing a five-second blindfold."

CDOT urges drivers to:

- Put your cellphone out of reach while driving to reduce the temptation to pick it up.

- Recognize that hands-free devices offer little safety benefit, as they distract from your brain's ability to multi-task.

- Understand the dangers of cognitive distraction to the brain.

- Be vocal with family, friends and coworkers about the dangers of distracted driving.

The statistic that stands out about distracted driving is that with each text sent or received, a driver's eyes are diverted from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds.

That's enough time to drive the length of a football field at 55 mph - blindfolded.

The problem "is only becoming more commonplace as the years go by," said Amy Ford, spokeswoman for CDOT, in a news release.

"It's more tempting than ever to pick up your phone, whether it's at a stoplight or while driving 65 mph down the highway."

Nationwide in 2012, more than 421,000 people were hurt in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

"It's a tricky problem to solve," said Carol Gould, highway safety manager at CDOT.

Using a phone while driving triples the risk of an accident, she said.

Use the "Red Thumb Reminder," CDOT says. That is an anti-texting and driving campaign founded in 2013 by Steve Babcock and Evolution Bureau of Boulder.

It's a simple reminder.

You paint your thumbnail on the hand you use to operate your phone.

Then, every time you go to send a text, you'll be reminded to put away the phone.

"We challenge everyone to paint their thumbnail red and try it out for the month of April," Ford said.

CDOT also plans to distribute brochures, posters and window clings using the "A Text is a Five Second Blindfold" tagline.

For more information visit www.coloradodot.info/programs/distracteddriving.

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