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Aurora mother pushing to ban cell phones while driving

Posted at 9:24 PM, Jan 09, 2019

AURORA, Colo. -- Nationwide, nine people die every day in traffic accidents involving distracted drivers.

Current Colorado law bans anyone under the age of 18 from using wireless phones while driving, and a new Senate proposal would extend the ban to all drivers, and all electronic devices. Violators would also face stiff fines. Some heavy hitters are backing the bill, including a Colorado mother who's made it her mission to end texting and driving.

"In the blink of an eye they could have been wiped out," said Lori Taggart. "To this day it still affects me," she Denver7.

Two years ago, five family members, including her nephews Brandon and Paitin, were driving home from a trip to Colorado.

"A young girl was texting. She was about 19. Coming down the hill doing about 50, 55 miles an hour, dropped her phone in the middle of the text, reached down to pick up the phone, hit them head on at a dead stop," said Taggart.

Colorado State Patrol officials said the violent collision should have killed the entire family.

"The impact literally flung my nephew forward so hard that when he came back it knocked him out," said Taggart.

Amazingly everyone survived. That life-changing collision led Taggart to help form "Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving," or "CORD." The group is now pushing a new Senate bill to ban drivers from using any mobile electronic devices while driving. Not just phones, but things like iPads, laptops, and gaming devices.

There were more than 53,000 distracted driving crashes in Colorado from 2012-2015. Taggart says enough is enough.

"When you're texting and driving you're just as impaired as someone drinking a beer." It's everywhere and it's an epidemic and we need to address it," Taggart said.

Democratic Representative Jovan Melton is sponsoring the bill. He says 15 other states already have the ban is place, and he believes it's time for Colorado to follow suit.

"Both red states and blue states. This really isn't a partisan issue. It's really a public safety issue," said Melton.

A Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) official says here in Colorado there are more than 40 accidents a day caused by distracted drivers. Melton says of those, more than half are cell phone related.

Despite the numbers, at least two other hands-free bills have failed in the past here in Colorado. So what's the difference in the newest bill? This proposal has the backing of the AAA, Colorado State Patrol and several bicycle groups, not to mention a Colorado mother who won't take "no" for an answer.

"There is nothing - nothing on that telephone that is more important than your life, your family's life or the lives of anyone around you," said Taggart.

The Senate bill does allow for the use of mobile devices if you're using a hands-free accessory.

The proposal still has a ways to go. The first hearing will take place January 24 in front of the Transportation and Energy Committee.