On June 1, 2017, Colorado State Senate Bill 17-027 went into effect, making changes to Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-239 (Misuse of a wireless telephone).

On June 1, 2017, Colorado State Senate Bill 17-027 went into effect, making changes to Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-239 (Misuse of a wireless telephone). Most notably, C.R.S. 42-4-239 states: “A person under eighteen years of age shall not use a wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle.” Use of a wireless telephone is later defined in statute as “talking on or listening to a wireless telephone or engaging the wireless telephone for text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission.” This means that anyone under the age of eighteen is prohibited from using a cellphone while driving, with the exception of there being an emergency that needs to be reported to authorities. 42-4-239 also goes on to state that “A person shall not use a wireless telephone for the purpose of engaging in text messaging or other similar forms of manual data entry or transmission while operating a motor vehicle,” meaning that it is illegal for anyone, regardless of age, to use a cellphone to text while operating a motor vehicle.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, in 2015, there were 68 fatalities and 15,574 crashes that involved distracted drivers statewide, with 37.4 percent of distracted drivers being between the ages of 21 and 34. Of those 68 fatalities, cellphones were a contributing factor in 17 of those fatal crashes. These numbers were gathered from CDOT’s “Drop the Distraction” campaign (www.codot.gov/safety/distracteddriving).

Even at just 25 miles per hour (speed limit for downtown La Junta), your vehicle is traveling at close to 37 feet per second. If your attention goes from the road to your cellphone, you could end up involved in one of the many traffic accidents that commonly occur in the downtown area, due to drivers entering and leaving the parking position. Bump your speed up to highway speeds, (55 MPH), your vehicle and all of its contents are now traveling at 80 feet per second, more than fast enough to cause bodily injury to the occupants of all involved vehicles in an accident.

If you have any questions about this law, or any other Colorado State Revised Statute, please feel free to contact the La Junta Police Department anytime, seven days a week, at 719-384-2525, or ask in person at the La Junta Police Department, located at 601 Colorado Ave in La Junta (City Municipal Building).