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CDOT addresses 'killer habit' in new campaign

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The first step in overcoming any bad habit is admitting you have one. And data suggests Coloradans do in fact have a dangerous habit -- distracted driving. Last year in Colorado, 15,574 crashes and 68 traffic fatalities involved distracted drivers. Aiming to reduce distraction on Colorado roadways, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is unveiling a new public safety video and campaign, calling distracted driving exactly what it is -- a killer habit.

"We're calling on Coloradans to reduce distracted driving and avoid the compulsion to grab their phones while driving. Like any good habit, consistency is key," said Sam Cole, CDOT communications manager. "Start with your next drive -- lock your phone away and make it to your destination without once touching your phone. Kicking your distracted driving habit could save a life."

Research commissioned by the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction suggests that while 98 percent of national survey respondents know distracted driving is dangerous, nearly 75 percent admit to having done it. Furthermore, a 2015 State Farm report indicates 84 percent of their respondents support measures prohibiting any physical interaction with cell phones.

"There is no safe way to use your cell phone while driving," said Cole. "We know that more than 15,000 crashes last year involved a distracted driver, but these numbers are likely underreported. Unlike alcohol-impaired driving, there's no quick test, like a breathalyzer, to tell if someone was distracted at the time of the crash. Some drivers involved in crashes don't admit they were driving distracted."

"Similar to alcohol, using a cell phone while driving impairs your ability to react to changing road conditions," said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "Even if you consider yourself an exemplary driver, distracted driving affects your ability to respond to immediate road hazards and other drivers. We're seeing more and more crashes involving distracted driving."

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