Colorado To Combat Traffic Fatalities With New Safety Program

Feb. 3, 2023
Traffic deaths rose in 2022 to 745 deaths, the most since 1981

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CODOT), traffic deaths in the Centennial State rose in 2022 to 745 deaths, the most since 1981.

In order to combat roadway fatalities, CODOT is implementing the Advancing Transportation Safety Program to reduce risky driving behaviors on the road.

According to deputy chief engineer for CODOT, Keith Stefanik, the program will focus on four areas:

  • Safe Drivers - Addressing the dangerous behavior that leads to crashes
  • Safe People - Addressing at risk roadway users such as pedestrians and cyclists
  • Safe Roads - Addressing improvements in the road design
  • Post-Crash Care - Addressing a fast and effective emergency response

Traffic Safety Communications Manager Sam Cole said that there have been 84 fatalities in the past five years on U.S. 287, with the leading cause being intoxication and speeding.

“I wish we could correlate the increase in fatalities to Colorado’s population growth, but that’s not the case,” Stefanik said. “After falling for 30 years, the rate of crashes has steadily risen during the last decade. Furthermore, for every fatality, there are five serious injuries caused by crashes on Colorado roads. These injuries can leave a devastating lifelong toll on individuals and their families.”

The program will be a joint effort between state and local agencies, community groups and municipalities in order to address the factors of traffic fatalities.

Representatives from CODOT and the Colorado State Patrol shared numbers and statistics that helped build the program’s key areas of focus. 36% of people killed in 2022 were the group of vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians, and cyclists. Last year’s number of motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities was the most on record since 1975.

CODOT said that impaired driving deaths increased to 278 last year, up 6% from 2021, but have increased almost 60% since 2019.

Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, reported that they’d seen a 51% increase in crashes involving cannabis in recent years.

“What we’re seeing across Colorado are the consequences when too many drivers ignore the rules of the road, and it’s unacceptable,” Packard said. “Troopers along with our local law enforcement partners will continue to remove drivers putting lives and communities at risk. However, law enforcement alone can’t solve the problem of rising fatalities on our roadways. Every driver makes a series of choices when they get behind the wheel that protects life or loses sight of our humanity. Drive sober, wear seat belts, obey speed limits, and be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists — treat your fellow road users with common courtesy and collectively we will improve safety across our communities.”

The program will also invest in fixing Colorado’s rural roads, funding for mass transit, and driver education.

“Driver education and compliance with laws and regulations are key to maintaining safe roadways. Keeping our roads safe is a shared responsibility,” said Electra Bustle, Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles Senior Director. “That education doesn’t end when you get your license. Driving poses a risk to others — it requires a lifelong commitment to doing so safely.”

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Source: CODOT