Bill seeking to better hold careless drivers accountable advances at Colorado Capitol

DENVER (KDVR) — Should there be tougher laws against careless driving? Experts say it’s the leading cause of crashes. Now, Colorado lawmakers want to make sure they are held accountable no matter who they hit.

“Look, the numbers are staggering whichever way you cut it when it comes to careless driving,” said Skyler McKinley of AAA Colorado. “If you are a pedestrian, they are especially shocking knowing that over the last decade, pedestrian deaths are up 89 percent — nearly double in Colorado as a whole. But it’s not just pedestrians, it’s not just bicyclists.”

Right now, Colorado law only holds careless drivers responsible if they cause bodily injury to a so-called “vulnerable road user.”

“The way the statute has it, it’s like pedestrians, people on bikes and strollers. Instead of having a list of things like saying, ‘Oh, you were on a hoverboard, you don’t count, you’re not a vulnerable road user.’  We’re just making sure that everybody who might be in accident is actually covered under the statute,” said Jefferson County Rep. Brianna Titone.

Titone and fellow Jefferson County representative Colin Larson are teaming up on the matter after Larson received a letter from his constituent John Nelson.

Nelson said his son David’s life was changed forever when someone who says they were changing their radio station slammed into David’s car, leaving him with a myriad of injuries including a shattered sternum and brain embolism.

Nelson says the careless driver had two points removed from his license but feels he deserved a steeper punishment.

Larson said the new bill would do just that.

“If you’re involved in careless driving and you have altered somebody’s life, they will have suffered a permanent disability for the rest of their life. You know because it’s careless driving, it’s not that there is a mal-intention there. So it doesn’t make sense to really throw them in jail, but I think it does make sense to maybe remove their license, really make them think about what they’ve done and give them a proportional response,” Larson said.

The bill passed the state House unanimously last session but then COVID-19 hit and left the measure in limbo. Both bill sponsors are hoping with the pandemic beginning to get under control, this year it can get signed into law.