STATEWIDE – Last year, 672 people were killed on Colorado roadways – the most deaths since 2002. And that number is expected to increase as the Colorado Department of Transportation continues to receive additional crash reports. This marks a 50% increase from the 447 fatalities recorded in 2011.
CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol, and the Colorado Springs Police Department gathered on Tuesday to urge Coloradans to reduce risky driving behaviors and drive like lives depend on it. Indeed, the life they save could be their own.
“We allocate tremendous resources into maintaining a safe and reliable statewide travel system,” said John Lorme, Director of Maintenance & Operations for CDOT. “However, the most important resource is the driver, and that’s where we see safety falter. Drivers making poor decisions — whether it’s speeding, being on their phones, or not buckling up — cause more than 90% of the fatal crashes on our roadways.”
Last year fatalities involving impaired drivers increased 16% from 212 in 2020 to 246 in 2021.
While fatal motorcycle, pedestrian, and bicycle crashes remained relatively steady last year, fatalities involving vehicle occupants skyrocketed — up 22%. Many of these crashes involved people not wearing seat belts. Thankfully, seat belts save an estimated 200 lives each year in Colorado, but unfortunately, seat belt use in the state still lags behind the national rate.
“For the average Coloradan, the most dangerous thing you will do all day is driving. These trends are tragic and unacceptable,” said Col. Matthew Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It’s why Colorado State Patrol will continue its low-tolerance enforcement strategy to educate or remove drivers putting lives at risk. But, enforcement efforts alone won’t solve the problem of rising fatalities on our roadways. We need drivers to do their part and set the right example. We need to care enough to change this – we need to care enough to make safe choices behind the wheel.”
The worrisome fatality trends are present in both rural and urban areas. Preliminary data indicates that fatalities are up 37% in Pueblo County and 29% in Denver County.
In 2021, El Paso County launched a comprehensive Road Safety Plan to make city roads safer and reduce traffic deaths and injuries.
“It takes dedication from the entire community and state to make a difference,” said Vincent Niski, Chief of Police for the Colorado Springs Police Department. “We can all do our part to save lives. Please treat driving with the respect it demands.”
The counties with the most road fatalities in 2021:
- El Paso = 77
- Adams = 66
- Denver = 65
- Jefferson = 50
- Arapahoe = 50
- Weld = 46
CDOT, Colorado State Patrol, and Colorado Springs Police Department, among other statewide traffic safety advocates, call on drivers statewide to:
- Never drive after consuming alcohol, marijuana or other drugs
- Avoid speeding
- Always buckle up, no matter the distance
- Never text and drive
- Use extra caution around pedestrians and bicyclists
In the coming year, the agencies will implement a variety of enforcement, education, and engineering initiatives to increase safety on Colorado roads.