By Makenzie O'Keefe

DENVER (CBS4)– Distracted driving continues to be an increasing issue on Colorado roadways, causing more than 15,000 crashes each year. To combat the issue, the Colorado Department of Transportation is launching a distracted driving campaign in correlation with “Distracted Driving Awareness Month” in April.

(credit: iStock/Getty)

“That’s 43 crashes a day that involves distracted drivers,” explained Sam Cole, with the Colorado Department of Transportation. “So it is a clear and present danger on our roadways.”

READ MORE: USGS Reports 2.8 Magnitude Earthquake Near Aspen Saturday Night

According to CDOT data, distracted driving crashes are on the rise. A 2020 survey of Colorado drivers shows that 92% admitted to driving distracted weekly. CDOT says that’s an increase from the 90% who reported driving distracted in 2019.

“Even taking your eyes off the road for two seconds to send a quick message, that’s traveling the equivalent of half of a football field,” Cole said. “A lot can happen in that time, you know, a child could dart in front of you, a car could swerve out in front of you.”

Data show that in Colorado, drivers between the ages of 20-31 have the highest rate of being responsible for distracted driving crashes.

READ MORE: 'It's A Team Job': Volunteers Prepare Colorado Lands For Possible Challenging Wild Fire Year

“Distracted driving is defined as anything that takes your eyes off the road or your hands off the wheel, or your mind off the task of driving,” Cole explained. “The phone does all three.”

(credit: iStock/Getty)

CDOT has launched a campaign during Distracted Driving Awareness Month called “Distraction Reactions.” 48 local coffee shops across the state will be handing out coffee cup sleeves with warnings about the danger of distracted driving, and reactions others have when they witness someone not paying attention while driving. Plus, they are launching a series of videos on social media as well.

“It’s alarming when you look over and see someone driving without looking in front of them,” Cole said. “We created a series of videos called ‘Distraction Reactions’ showing some of those reactions that people have to kind of push the stigma against people who drive distracted.”

MORE NEWS: Raise The Future Needs The Colorado Community To Come Together Around Youth Living In Foster Care

Cole said one easy thing people can do to break the habit of distracted driving is to turn on the “do not disturb while driving” feature on your phone. Another suggestion is to keep your phone in the back seat.

Makenzie O'Keefe