Lawmaker Seeks To Restrict Cell Phone Use While Driving

Rep. Claire Levy Seeks To Ban Texting While Operating Vehicle

State Representative Claire Levy, D-Boulder, said it's tragic that a little girl riding her bicycle in a bike lane, lost her life Thursday, because of inattentive driving.

Fort Collins police told 7NEWS that 9-year-old Erica Forney was riding her bicycle Tuesday on the southwest side of the city when she was struck by an SUV.

Forney died from her injuries two days later.

Investigators believe the driver, Michelle Smith, was talking on her cell phone.

"I can't think of a worse tragedy," Levy said.

Levy said she plans to sponsor a bill to restrict the use of cell phones while driving, specifically text messaging.

"For me, it came to a head over the summer," Levy said, "just seeing more and more people who were clearly distracted.

The Boulder democrat added, "We're driving around in these big hunks of metal, with all kinds of distractions and hazards. We should be concentrating on the road. I see people doing everything but that."

Levy said she's observed numerous people “texting” while driving.

"What part of you is focused on the task of driving when you're reading, entering text and thinking about what you're composing?” she asked. “I can't imagine how that's safe.”

Last year, 7NEWS conducted its own test on a closed driving course. Two teens who sent text messages while driving, ended up knocking over several cones.

"Yes, I think there should be a law," said Aaron Parola, while walking in the Cherry Creek shopping district Friday.

Parola said he tries to avoid using his cell phone in his car, especially during working hours.

"It's corporate policy where I work, that our cell phones have to be turned off when we drive," Parola said. "I think that's because our company identified that as one of the major hazards globally."

"Cell phone use has the potential, as do other distractions in the vehicle, of causing very tragic incidents," said Trooper David Hall of the Colorado State Patrol.

Hall said the CSP is trying to track the connection between cell phones use and traffic accidents. But he acknowledged that tracking is difficult.

"We're relying on people being honest with us and saying, 'yeah, I was distracted by my cell phone.' But it doesn't really happen that way," the trooper said.

Whether cell phone use is legal or not, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association told 7NEWS that, "When you're behind the wheel of a car, that's all you should be doing."

Carole Walker cited research by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Virginia Tech that shows 80 percent of crashes involve some sort of driver inattention within three seconds before the crash. That study listed cell phone use as one of the most common driver distractions.

Print this article Back to Top