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  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Whitely
  • Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs

October is Distracted Driving Awareness Month reminding Airmen to focus on the road while driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving is anything that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road. This can include texting, talking, eating and more.

“It’s important to focus on the road at all times while driving,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Cook, Peterson-Schriever Garrison noncommissioned officer in charge of occupational safety. “Pay attention to what’s going on around you.”

There were over 15,000 accidents caused by distracted driving in 2019. Additionally, most drivers involved in these types of accidents were 21-30 years old, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

If cited for distracted driving, drivers can receive a class two misdemeanor traffic offense. The first offense will cost $300, but if cited again, a ticket can be anywhere from $300 to $1,000 and may include up to a year in prison.

In the state of Colorado, it is prohibited for drivers under 18 to use a cell-phone or hands-free device while driving. Additionally, if a driver is cited for negligent or reckless acts, they can be criminally prosecuted in accordance with Colorado law.

As an Airman, there are more consequences for distracted driving.

“You can be [verbally] counseled, or receive letters of counseling, admonishment or reprimand for bad behavior, even if the conduct doesn’t amount to a violation of the [Uniformed Code of Military Justice],” said Capt. Jordan Davies, P-S GAR legal office chief of discharges. “Depending on the circumstances of the distracted driving and the extent of any damage or injury that results, distracted driving could cost an Airman their career.”

However, there are exemptions to distracted driving laws. Drivers can be on their phones if they fear for their safety, are reporting a hazard or reporting another driver for being reckless.

“Things can change in a split second while driving,” Cook said. “You need to be prepared and ready to react appropriately to different scenarios and you can’t do that if you’re distracted.”