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Study: Colorado adults, teens too often driving while distracted

July 27, 2016 Updated: July 27, 2016 at 6:53 pm
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As the executive director of Drive Smart Colorado, Maile Gray's favorite part of the Colorado Department of Transportation's new distracted driving campaign is that it targets adults as well as teens.

"That is really important in my mind, because it is not just a teen problem," Gray said. "Adults are driving distracted, I would probably say, at the same rate that teens are."

However, she said, "so many adults want to be in denial that they ever drive distracted."

The campaign, called "Killer Habit," is intended to hammer home the seriousness of distracted driving, said Sam Cole, CDOT communications manager. The campaign video, which ends with a car crash and a voice saying, "Your digital addiction is a killer habit. Drop the distraction," is intentionally graphic and intense.

Although the campaign features a driver using his cellphone, there are many forms of distracted driving, including applying makeup, eating and looking after children.

The most common forms of distracted driving are using a cellphone and turning to talk to a passenger, Cole said.

"The research tells us that people know distracted driving is wrong ... but everybody does it," Cole said. "So if it's so dangerous, why are people doing it?"

In 2015, distracted drivers caused 68 deaths and 15,574 crashes in Colorado, according to CDOT statistics.

Cellphone use contributed to 17 fatal crashes.

Nearly 40 percent of the distracted driving crashes from 2012 to 2014 were caused by people ages 21 to 34.

"Life is so distracting," Gray said. "You just have to focus on driving. You can't do anything else."

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Contact Ellie Mulder: 636-0198

Twitter: @lemarie

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