Leadville News – March 5

Happy Monday: Cold Weather, Distracted Driving

It will likely feel like a Monday morning as Leadville gets back to it after a ski joring weekend. Yesterday’s high winds should continue into part of today with forecasters calling local weather “blustery,” with a west northwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. And those winds will plummet temperatures making it feel like -10 and -20 at times. It won’t get above freezing in Leadville Today with a predicted high of “near 19.” In fact, it could be a few days until temperatures climb above the freezing mark. Don’t let the sunshine fool you, dress warm. Brrrr!weather

Last night the snow came through, leaving 3-4 inches around town. But it’s the wind and cold that forced the Colorado Department of Transportation to call for a ‘traction law” status for both Fremont and Battle Mountain passes, the two northern portal into America’s Highest City. Under a Traction Law, motorists will need to have either snow tires, tires with the mud/snow designation, or a four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicle – all tires must have a minimum one-eighth inch tread.

Motorists are asked to use extra caution for the morning commute, as roads are dangerously icy and snow packed. Please get to where you are going safely. Arrive alive!

To that end LT, brings you the March installment of Trooper Tips from the Colorado State Patrol Public Information Officer Gary Cutler. In this month’s message, Trooper Cutler calls distracted driving the new DUI, causing more accident ad fatalities than drinking and driving. What do you think about Lake County drivers? Has distracted driving gotten worse?

Distracted Driving Getting Worse 

trooper-gary-cutler-column2“I’m sorry, what was that? I was driving distracted.”

“After all of these years, I’m surprised, I’m still surprised.”  I hear myself saying this more and more.  After reading this you’ll understand why.

I’m often approached by people who want to discuss driving problems they have personally observed.  The biggest complaint by far is the topic of distracted driving.  Distracted driving is not just the use of cell phones, but it will be the focus for this discussion.

Law enforcement has termed distracted driving as the new DUI.  It is more prevalent than anything I have ever seen in my career.  It used to be just the kids looking at their phones, whether it was texting, Facebook, Instagram, or movies; now I see it with all age groups.

Law enforcement has been very vocal about the dangers of using your phone while driving.  But we can always use help.  So one theme you will see with my articles is the power you have to help with the message.  Talk to others; let them know you are as tired of seeing this as much as cops are tired of it.  Let them know how dangerous it is and what the consequences will be which includes serious injury crashes and in some cases, death. 


Distracted driving has now surpassed drunk driving when it comes to accidents and fatalities on Colorado roads. Photo: Leadville Today/ Danielle Orcutt

Parents are the first line of defense and need to lead by example and can be achieved by never driving distracted. Also have a talk with your young driver about distractions and all of the responsibilities that come with driving. Have everyone in the family be held accountable to distraction-free driving.

I suggest you put the phones in your car’s back seat, in the glove box, even in the trunk.  You should do whatever it takes to reduce the urge of picking up the phone while driving. 

Some believe it’s okay to look at their phone if they only do it at a stop light; it’s not.  The times I see people do that they are there much longer than the red light lasted.  I watched one gentleman looking at his phone for close to 20 seconds after the light was green.  Fortunately, there weren’t any other cars behind him at the time, because he wouldn’t have known.  The scary part of that is someone driving could have come up behind and hit him because he needed to see the sports scores right then.  Besides the scores he also got a ticket that day.

If you have to use the phone whether to talk to someone, or see what someone is doing on Facebook, you can pull onto the shoulder, or better yet exit the roadway.  You’ll have a better chance of being around to tell friends and family what you saw when you’re not in a hospital bed.

fremontThink about this, if you are so busy looking at your phone you don’t even see the State Trooper next to you watching you do it, your focus is not where it needs to be…driving.  I see it every day I patrol the road.  Please don’t be that person.

So please use your phones where they are safe and won’t cause a crash.  It also reduces road rage. As always, safe travels!

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