Troopers on patrol against distracted drivers

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DENVER -- Colorado State Patrol troopers will increase enforcement against distracted drivers starting Friday, saying the enforcement period is meant to save lives.

Anything that takes eyes and minds off the road -- and hands off the steering wheel -- is considered distracted driving.

“Every single trooper has responded to some crash that they will never be able to forget throughout their lifetime,” Trooper Josh Lewis said.

He has responded to enough crashes to know distracted driving injures and kills.

“Unfortunately, it’s a reality. This is part of the job. While we accept it, it still affects us,” he said.

Starting Friday, troopers will stop those who text or eat while driving, and some of those who take both hands off the wheel to chat on their cellphone and hold a coffee cup.

“We see over 15,000 crashes in Colorado each year due to distracted driving. Just last year we saw 69 fatalities,” said Sam Cole with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which is funding this weekend's enforcement.

Troopers hope the enforcement drives home the point that it's not just texting while driving that's illegal in Colorado, but also anything that takes attention away from driving.

“Driving in itself requires divided attention. You’ve got to scan the environment, read signs, look at pedestrians. That’s a lot to do. You don’t want to add eating a burger, putting on makeup, let alone be on your phone when you trying to drive,” Cole said.

Texting while driving is a primary offense so police don’t need another reason to pull you over.

A first-time offense will cost 50 and one point on a driving record. A second and subsequent offense will cost $100 and another point.

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