GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4) – Paint your thumbnail red, and you might save a life.

That’s the message from the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Transportation, who are hoping red nail polish on drivers’ right thumbnails will remind them to put their phones down while on the road.

Steve Babcock, the creator of Red Thumb Reminder, says it helped him stop texting and driving within two weeks. It’s also a conversation-starter that spreads the message virally.

“Everybody asks me about why my thumb is painted red. Everybody — the person at the store, the teacher, all these people. It gave me the opportunity to tell them why I did it,” Babcock said.

CDOT says 37 of its trucks have been hit so far this year, most because of distracted driving. Twenty-two CSP patrol cars have been smashed.

Paul Padilla, of CDOT, investigates those crashes and vividly remembers one in which a woman died.

“Once they removed her car from the back of the semi, they found her cell phone right in her lap. They believe she was texting when she hit the semi,” Padilla said.

CSP says 95 percent of the crashes involving their cars are against fully marked patrol cars — those equipped with flashing strobes and distinctive decals — something drivers shouldn’t miss, if they’re paying attention.

“I say there’s no excuse for it,” Jeff Goodwin with CSP said. “You can’t miss it if you’re paying attention and not distracted.”

Denver is running a similar street safety campaign. June is “heads up” month, and the city is encouraging driver, cyclists and pedestrians to pay extra attention on the road. Every Wednesday in June, volunteers sporting bright yellow shirts will get the word out at four busy intersections.




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