The Department routinely receives questions regarding traffic laws and complaints about driving behaviors. These are just a couple of our recent ones:
Q: There was a power outage in Greeley the other day causing the traffic signals to quit working. The lights were out for quite awhile. Why didn’t police officers direct traffic at the intersections?
A: Power outages cause a myriad of issues for both the citizens and the police. Calls for service increase immediately during these times, and all needs must be prioritized. Legislators recognized malfunctioning lights to be an issue years ago, and established the criteria for drivers when these situations occur. Intersections controlled by traffic signals that are out are to be treated as if they are a four-way stop until the lights are again functioning correctly. Since there is a “fix” in place when the lights go out, other situations and calls for service can take priority and police officers are dispatched accordingly. If officers are available and there are significant issues, officers may be dispatched to direct traffic until the problem can be solved.
Q: I’ve heard texting and driving is illegal in Colorado, yet I routinely see people who appear to be texting while they are at traffic lights, or driving down the street. Is texting illegal, and why aren’t these people being stopped?
A: Texting while driving is illegal in the state of Colorado. It is a primary offense, which means officers need not see another violation in order to stop a driver and issue a citation. And while texting seems to be what people focus on and see most often, distracted driving, overall, is the bigger issue. People are trying to do a number of things while driving – eating, drinking, managing children, changing the radio, reading the on-board computer screens, etc. – all of which affect a person’s ability to drive safely. There are more and more cars on the road these days, and more and more distractions both inside and outside the vehicle. Vehicles, when not under control, can do extreme, permanent damage resulting in far reaching consequences for all involved. As far as why people are being stopped – they are, when an officer sees the violation. Just as with speeding, or running a red light, or failing to stop at a stop sign, when a driver sees an officer he/she tends to be on their best driving behavior. When there are not police cars in the area, drivers believe they “can get away with it.” So as school starts please remember to drive safely, observe school zones, and wait until you’re home or out of your vehicle to read or send texts, eat your lunch, or make your phone calls, etc. As others have said, “The life you save may be your own,” but the lives you affect may be more than you can count.