Put safety first this season by paying attention to the road—and your suitability for driving on it.
There’s nothing like the holiday season to create the perfect storm of harried planning and jolly drinking. But both ends of the spectrum often equal the same thing: distracted and/or impaired driving. Here are some rules of the road for safe, sensible motoring.
Distracted driving is driving while participating in another activity—any other activity—that takes your attention off the road. It causes an average of 40 crashes a day in Colorado.
Colorado has no restrictions on talking on a cellphone while driving unless the driver is under 18 years old, in which case cellphone use is prohibited, even with a wireless or hands-free device. However, it’s illegal for all Colorado drivers to text and drive, though law enforcement can only cite drivers if they’re driving in a “careless or imprudent” manner. A texting ticket will cost you $300 and four points on your license (or $1,000, plus 10 days to one year in jail if there is bodily injury or death involved).
Both iPhone and Android users can find built-in phone features that will block notifications, texts and calls while you are driving. They turn themselves on when they sense the car is in motion, then turn off again when you’re in park. Look for the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature on your cellphone.
If you prefer a standalone app, the Colorado Department of Transportation’s website (www.CDOT.gov) recommends AT&T DriveMode, Life Saver, True Motion Family, SafeRide, and Driving Detective.
Driving Under the Influence
All 50 states set the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) legal limit at .08 percent (.04 percent for commercial drivers). Everyone metabolizes alcohol differently, so a 100-lb. female may be at the legal limit with one to two drinks, whereas a 240-lb. male may be able to stretch that to three to four drinks.
While there are apps that help you evaluate whether you’ve had one too many, they may be of little use after consumption has begun. The most practical are those that help you track the number of drinks you’ve had over a period of time, taking into consideration your weight and sex. However, your best bet is to download the Lyft or Uber app and let someone else take driving out of your control.
One tool, the BACtrack Mobil Smartphone Breathalyzer, can help you determine if you’ve had too many to get behind the wheel. The device pairs with an app on your mobile phone and uses the same technology as hospitals and law enforcement to determine your BAC. It retails at about $99, which is considerably cheaper than a DUI.
If you’re a marijuana user (recreational or medicinal), 5 nanograms of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per milliliter of blood can earn you a DUI. Since there is no current means for roadside testing, officers base arrests on observed impairment.
For more information on drugged driving, check www.cdot.gov/safety/alcohol-and-impaired-driving/druggeddriving.