COLORADO – Each year, traffic crashes kill thousands of Americans, last year Colorado lost over 600 lives on our state’s roadways. This is why the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) reviews the traffic fatality number every week during the calendar year, to serve as a humbling reminder of their core mission.
“Our primary focus has and always will be creating a safe and secure environment on our highways, roads, and neighborhood streets,” stated Chief Matthew C. Packard, Colorado State Patrol. “Even when there are unexpected needs of civil unrest, unprecedented wildfires, and shifting dynamics of a pandemic – our organization maintains and then returns stronger to the core duties of protecting life and property on Colorado’s roadways.”
Last year a new causal factor claimed the top position for injury and fatality crashes investigated by the State Patrol, excessive speed. The top three causal factors were determined to be exceeding safe/legal speed, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
With the pandemic, some of Colorado’s most congested roadways opened up. According to preliminary information from CDOT, there was an 11% decrease in vehicle miles traveled by Colorado drivers this past year. With less people on the roads, this allowed drivers the ability to ignore posted speed limits and some chose to drive recklessly.
“The fact that evidence is lining up to show that there were fewer cars on the road, yet the same amount of fatalities on our roadways should be alarming to us all,” stated Chief Matthew Packard. “Some of us forget the importance of responsibility we take on as drivers as we become caught in the routine of driving. The Colorado State Patrol wants our presence to serve as a reminder to drive with care and proper speed.”
While excessive speed became a national problem on roadways, the following five counties topped Colorado for the largest quantity of speeding charges at the highest speed intervals received by the Colorado State Patrol:
1. El Paso
Driving distracted and impaired driving also remained a significant issue on Colorado roadways in 2020. Preliminary data from CDOT indicates that traffic fatalities that involved an impaired driver rose 15% (from 176 in 2019 to 203 in 2020).
“With the start of a new year, this is a good time for all of us to renew our commitment to driving safely,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. “Right now many of our hospitals are overwhelmed due to COVID-19 and tending to victims of traffic crashes only adds to the burden. Let’s come together in 2021 and keep our speed down, buckle up and never drive impaired.”
Across Colorado, people are on the road to get to work, school, stores, friends, and family. Let’s ensure that people arrive at their destination without incident. Watching your speed, staying alert behind the wheel, and never driving under the influence, are three controllable factors to reduce injury and fatality crashes in 2021.