Colorado lawmakers consider ban on cell phone use while driving

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DENVER -- The dangers of texting and driving are well-documented. But most drivers have no problem making a phone call or two while behind the wheel.

Some Colorado lawmakers want to change that.

Using a cell phone while driving could soon be illegal in Colorado.

Some studies estimate as many as 11 people are killed by distracted drivers every day in the United States. Cell phones rank at the top of that distraction list.

The mother of 9-year-old Erica Forney lives with the pain each day. Shelley Forney says her little girl was on her bicycle near her home in Fort Collins in 2008 when a woman hit her head-on.

The woman was on a cell phone when she killed Erica.

"Erica hit the windshield flipped 360 and she landed 15 feet in back on the concrete on her head ... (chokes back tears) we lost her two days later on Thanksgiving day and all of it was because of something that was 100 percent preventable," Shelley says.

She founded the national distracted driving awareness campaign called Focus Driven.

"Our current law right now bans texting and driving but really that's where it ends, so technically, I could be sitting in traffic doodling around with a different app trying to figure out what I'm going to make for dinner that night," says Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora.

Melton is pushing to make Colorado the 14th state to enact a law banning anything but "hands-free" use of cell phones behind the wheel.

A recent Colorado State University study found nearly 16 percent of Colorado drivers are distracted. The main reasons are talking and texting on cell phones.

"That text, that phone call ... that is not worth a life and I am involved because I lost my daughter," Shelley says.

In 2008, the year her daughter died, the Colorado State Patrol determined about 5,000 of 27,000 crashes were caused by distracted drivers.


  • Lisa Parisien-Waldman

    I think it’s an AWESOME Idea! There are too many DISTRACTED Drivers out there that should pay better attention to their driving as well as what’s happening on the Road around and ahead of them. If this becomes a Law, it has to be strictly enforced.

  • Sam Fetters

    So 2.9 million people have to lose another freedom because one person experienced tragedy? I feel for Shelley Forney, but this is life, and tragedies happen in life. Tragedies will be completely uncontrollable no matter how many laws you try to pass, or how safe you try to make life. Accidents will still happen. One person shouldn’t have the right to drive laws affecting millions. The stupid actions of one person (the distracted driver in this case) shouldn’t adversely affect millions.

    And what of the other distractions we encounter? What about people, billboards, business signs, wildlife, city street workers, and all other “distractions” we encounter every single minute we’re behind the wheel? Shall we ban all those as well? I saw a woman crash the other day because she was distracted by an RTD bus. Shall we now ban all RTD busses?

    Plato was right, democracy fails because people can’t handle the freedoms. One persons freedom is anothers distraction.

  • Vincent Wolf

    Well why stop with phones? What about fighting with kids so leave them at home. Eating? definitely spilling pop on you is dangerous so no eating or drinking. Makeup? Best to do at home in privacy of your own mirror not your rear view mirror or visor mirror. Let’s ban that too. Paperwork? Let’s make sure your not reading the paper, a book, or some legal papers. Leave them at home too ban having them in a car. Noisy parents? grandparents? Leave them at home too they are very distracting as every one knows. Lets just all drive naked! Oh wait that’s distracting too!

  • Thomas Stines

    So reports are saying 4 Americans were on the Malaysian Airliner that’s gone missing. Thus we’re probably looking at another 4 Americans dead…..which is four times the loss of life that Ms Forney experienced.

    Perhaps we need to ban all air travel for American citizens. Banning airplanes would certainly cut down on the airplane deaths. Isn’t that the theme here, cut out all risk in life (or attempt to) in order to preserve all life?

    People don’t need the freedom of flying. All remaining freedoms must be abolished for the sake of attempted safety.

  • dougsmith42

    Laws are for those who choose to follow them. So instead of people holding their phone up while driving, it will be in their lap looking down. PERFECT!

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