Bill would require hands-free device for cell usage behind wheel

DENVER — A bill proposal that would ban drivers from using cell phones unless they utilize a hands-free device will be heard at the state capitol Wednesday.

At the heart of the bill is an effort to prevent web-browsing behind the wheel. Some drivers have gotten pretty good at playing games, shopping and checking out their bank accounts behind the wheel, the proposal suggests.

The bill is seeking to cut a lot of that usage out by requiring drivers to use a hands free device.

Studies show the number of people who browse the web while driving nearly doubled between 2009 and 2013 — from 13 percent to 24 percent. When it comes to drivers between the ages of 18 and 29, the number of cell phone use behind the wheel has reportedly jumped to 49 percent.

Lawmakers are citing videos like the one that can be seen above, showing a driver who was web browsing in Florida. He car veers off the road before hitting and fence and flipping.

It’s already against the law to text while driving in Colorado, but Democratic State Rep. Jovan Melton is proposing the hands-free requirement because he says accidents are still being caused by drivers distracted by their cell phones.

The Colorado State Patrol would tend to agree, citing 2008 statistics that show nearly 5,000 accidents were caused by people using cell phones.

Additional studies show talking on cell phones is the No. 1 distraction for drivers, followed by eating and then texting.

If this becomes law, using your cell phone without a hands-free device could get you a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for the second and you would only get a ticket if you were stopped for something else.

The bill would not make an exception for cell usage behind the wheel in the case of an emergency.