(COLORADO) — Colorado State Patrol (CSP) shared five rules of the road for every driver in Colorado to remember. Three rules are laws that CSP wanted drivers to keep in mind all the time. The other two are “unwritten rules” or more like guidelines.

El Paso County ranked 1st in traffic fatalities caused by lane violations
Courtesy of Colorado State Patrol

Sergeant Troy Kessler with CSP said, “Driving is a divided attention task, meaning you are having to do and pay attention to multiple things around you to operate your vehicle safely.  Driving a vehicle that weighs literally thousands of pounds demands our attention to ensure everyone makes it to their destination safely.”

The laws that Sergeant Kessler shared are as follows:

  • Obey the speed limit.  Speed limits, believe it or not, are there to keep you safe and are determined based on optical road and traffic conditions in that area.  Excessive speeds reduce your ability to observe and react accordingly to a traffic hazard or other circumstance.  Speed and injury have a proportional relationship.  The faster you drive, the higher chance of injury or death when you crash.  Speed typically only saves a couple of minutes during a commute and overall not worth the danger and frustrated emotional response.  Speed is one of the most disobeyed laws. 
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  Approximately 1/3 of all fatalities on Colorado roads are caused by drivers under the influence.  Just because someone feels they have a higher tolerance does not mean they can operate a vehicle safely.  Perception/reaction time is significantly reduced when consuming drugs/alcohol and thus when a driver has to react to a situation or curve in the road, they don’t perceive it and react until they’ve already crashed.  The consequences can be lifelong… injury, death, memory or hurting someone else, jail time, fines, etc.
  • Eliminate distraction.  The theme so far is the ability to react to what’s in front of you when you drive.  Being distracted obviously affects a driver’s ability to react because their eyes/attention are literally not on the road.  We’ve all seen people failing to drive in their lane or driving slow or sitting at a stop light after it’s turned green or even driving right through a red light.  

As for the “unwritten rules,” Sergeant Kessler shared these:

  • Habit:  Our driving behavior is a habit.  If you create good habits, you’re more inclined to keep the good habits even when you are in a rush.
  • Our driving behavior is influential:  Have you ever seen someone do something, then a handful of people follow suit?  Our behavior as drivers rubs off and we can either influence those around us for good or bad.  Choose good driving behavior.  Everyone has noticed how aggressive people are driving.  The first step is taking a look at ourselves because our behavior is the only one we really have control over. 

Sergeant Kessler also underscored CSP’s Stay in Your Lane campaign which addresses aggressive driving and lane violations.

According to the website, “This message is designed to remind people to control their lane position based on their current driving environment. It also aims to bring attention to three of the most common and avoidable behaviors that contribute to lane violations – driving aggressively, driving distracted or driving while impaired.”

CSP said that lane violations are one of the leading causes of crashes in Colorado. In 2021, investigators with CSP found a 30.6% increase in injury crashes because of lane violations and a 74% increase in fatal crashes because of lane violations. There was also a 29% increase in lane violations due to aggressive driving over a year which was noted as worse on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Remember that whenever you’re out, whether it be weekend errands or your daily commute to work, staying calm and having respect to other drivers is the key in keeping yourself, your loved ones and others on the roadways safe. Getting frustrated and showing aggression on the roadways including tailgating and motioning will eventually lead to a more serious situation that can be completely avoidable if you remember to give yourself and other drivers a bit of grace and space,” CSP said.