Traffic fatalities continue to rise in Colorado - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Traffic fatalities continue to rise in Colorado

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The Colorado Department of Transportation says traffic fatalities have risen 29 percent in the last three years.

According to CDOT, in 2017 there were 630 traffic fatalities in the state, which is four percent more than the 608 people who died in 2016. These deaths include pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists and car passengers.

“We can’t lay the blame for the uptick on Colorado’s population growth,” said Michael Lewis, CDOT Executive Director.  “This comes down to poor choices many people make when driving, from not buckling up to driving impaired or using their phones.” 

Lewis says 16 percent of Coloradans don't buckle up despite the state's seat belt law. CDOT says Colorado ranks 36th in the country for seat belt use. But there were 211 passenger deaths not wearing a seat belt last year, making up half of the 399 passenger fatalities in 2017. 

Out of the 3.8 million licensed drivers in the state, "one in every 33 Colorado drivers will be in a crash this year." 

The Colorado Department of Transportation says there a number of odds that can significantly improve chances of surviving a crash like buckling up, watching speed, avoiding using drugs and alcohol, and staying off cell phones.

CDOT awarded $3.5 million to non-profit organizations, law enforcement, and local government agencies to launch programs aimed at reducing crashes in the state. Many of which address alcohol-related crashes, which are responsible for one-third of Colorado fatalities.

"Fatal crashes continue to be a tragic ending for hundreds of people in Colorado each year." said Colonel Matt Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "Every life matters.  They matter to me, my troopers, and the families suffering from these preventable tragedies.  We encourage drivers to make good decisions, always drive sober and avoid distractions.  Help us save lives this year by buckling up, dropping the distractions, and focusing on driving."  

The upside in all this data is that motorcyclists killed in crashes declined by 20 percent last year. The numbers went from 125 recorded fatalities in 2016 to 101 in 2017, most killed were not wearing helmets. 

While pedestrian deaths rose for a second year in a row, bicycle fatalities remained flat.

CDOT preliminary data shows:

 2017 fatalities: 630 (2015 – 547; 2016 – 608)

  • Highest counties: El Paso (76); Adams (64), Weld (62), Denver (46)
  • Motorcyclist fatalities: 101, a 20% decrease from 2016 (125)
  • Alcohol/Drug related fatalities: 232, a 16% increase from 2016 (197)
  • Unbelted fatalities: 211, a 14% increase from 2016 (182)
  • Pedestrian fatalities: 93, a 11% increase from 2016 (84)
  • Construction zone fatalities: 15, a 114% increase from 2016 (7)

Saving lives:

  • 25 lives could be saved annually with 100% helmet use among motorcyclists (NHTSA)
  • 58 lives could be saved annually with 100% seat belt use among passenger vehicle occupants (NHTSA)

Traffic-related fatalities in the state did decline 34 percent between 2002 and 2014. 

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