New laws passed by the Colorado Legislature and signed by Gov. Ritter concerning cell phone use and text messaging while driving take effect next Tuesday, December 1st.
House Bill 1094 outlines several new restrictions on cell phone use and text messaging. Colorado’s new cell phone and text messaging rules are part of a nationwide trend toward reforming said laws. Several proposals at the federal level have received much attention over the course of 2009.
Beginning December 1st, drivers under 18 years of age, school bus drivers and other motor vehicle carriers regulated by Colorado’s public utilities commission will not be allowed to use a wireless/cell phone while the vehicle is in motion.
Drivers over 18 years of age (excluding aforementioned bus and truck drivers) may use a cell phone provided it’s installed with a hands-free device.
The bill also outlaws text messaging for ALL drivers over 18 years of age while the vehicle is in motion. Text messaging has been a big issue of concern for lawmakers and transportation officials over the last few years. It’s said that text messaging while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk, which is a reasonable assumption from my observation.
The only exception to these rules is if someone is in the process of contacting a public safety agency in the event of an emergency.
First time offenders will receive a $50 fine plus a $6 surcharge. A second offense carries a $100 fine plus a $6 surcharge.
As a Colorado auto accident attorney, I’m well aware of the dangerous cell phone use and text messaging pose to other drivers on the road. I’ve seen many accidents that could have been prevented if the offending driver had his/her full attention on traffic instead of their conversation.
I’m hopeful these new laws will make people think twice and be safe when using their phones on the road.