DENVER (CBS4)– Texting and driving is illegal in Colorado but many drivers continue to break the law while behind the wheel. Law enforcement will be cracking down on drivers who continue with the dangerous habit beginning next week.
Police believe when drivers are focusing on anything besides the road, putting on makeup, talking on the phone, looking at a map or texting while driving, you’re more likely to cause an accident.
“I was ready to cross the street but he was looking the other way on the phone. And I was ready to cross. And he didn’t see me,” said pedestrian Shawn Betone.
Betone described nearly being struck by a driver who was talking on the phone just this afternoon. He also knows what it’s like to lose someone to something so easily avoided.
“My daughter’s coach and teacher from junior high school. She was texting her husband and she rolled over. And she passed away,” said Betone.
Texting and driving are illegal in 43 states including Colorado. Across the U.S. it’s blamed for thousands of deaths every year and even more injuries.
“I don’t know why one couldn’t pull over to a curb and do whatever you need to do,” said driver Tina Budinich.
Next week law enforcement agencies across Colorado will be on alert looking for drivers who are tapping away on their phones.
“When you see somebody either weaving a little bit or driving under the speed limit you kind of sneak up beside them and you can watch,” said Aurora Police Lt. Jeff Turner.
In Aurora alone, officers have ticketed 20 drivers since Oct. 2013 solely for texting and driving.
“If you’re traveling 50 to 60 mph you’re covering a lot of territory in just a couple of seconds glance down,” said Turner.
Police in Aurora are also passing out wrist bands and thumb bands that read “W8 2 TXT” and “TXTNG KILLS” to teenage drivers so they can wear them or wrap them around their phone while driving as a constant reminder to wait to text.
There’s also new TV ad campaign that hopes to drive home the dangers of texting and driving. The ads will appear on televisions across the country.
The ads are the first of their kind from the U.S. Department of Transportation and many say they are graphic in nature to show the severity of consequences with texting and driving.