By Robb Corker
A new bill is being proposed that would require minors to undergo 36 hours of training before obtaining a driver’s license. The bill comes in the wake of Colorado traffic fatalities reaching a mark unseen since 1981 with 745.
The bill proposed by State Senator Faith Winter (D) will require drivers under 18 years of age to undergo 30 hours of in-person or online driver’s education in addition to 6 hours behind the wheel with a certified trainer (or 12 with a parent, legal guardian, or responsible adult if a training center is more than 30 miles away).
Road rage is on the rise in Colorado
Colorado State Patrol reported a record 31,760 calls made in 2022 to report “aggressive driving”, a 4.5% increase from 2021. These incidents escalated to shootings and interstate highway closures.
37% of fatal crashes involve impaired driving
Drugs and/or alcohol were to blame in more than a 1/3 of Colorado’s deadly crashes. While alcohol was the most common intoxicant, crashes involving cannabis also rose 51% from the prior year. The 278 total deaths due to impaired driving continues a steep rise in such deaths since 2017.
Minor drivers going to school during peak times for accidents
Data from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s “Colorado Crash Data Dashboard” indicates the most dangerous times to be on the road are during the morning and evening commutes to and from work or school.
Between 7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. are when most traffic accidents occur in Colorado. Young and inexperienced drivers may be doing most of their driving during the most dangerous times to be on the road. When asked about the bill on Tuesday, State Senator Faith Winter who proposed SB23-011 (Minor Driver’s Education Requirements) said, “Ensuring that young people have the training they need to set them up for success before they get behind the wheel of a vehicle that can kill themselves or others is essential to the safety of Coloradans.”
Inclement weather has impacted Colorado drivers
Colorado drivers have been under siege from temperatures not seen in recent memory over the past month. In Denver, temperatures dropped to -17 degrees, a low not seen since 1985. With those temperatures come icy roads. With people immigrating from other states to Colorado in droves, a significant portion of the population has little-to-no experience driving in winter conditions.
Distracted drivers on the road
Despite laws in place to prevent cell phone use while driving, 2020 saw 10,166 crashes due to distracted drivers, causing injuries to 1,476 people and death to 68. However, that hasn’t stopped people from reaching for their phone as 90% of Colorado drivers self-report continuing the dangerous behavior. Surprisingly, the majority report another activity that takes their attention from the road.
With so many reasons to remain vigilant on the road, some young people are embracing the new measures to protect themselves and other drivers. Samantha Allen, a freshman at Evergreen High School, said, “I think that is a good idea because most of the people I know didn’t pay a ton of attention during driver’s ed (sic) and I think having more training would make better drivers; I think having an actual instructor training instead of online or in class would be better.”
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