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Traffic deaths involving impaired driving increasing in Colorado

Traffic stops
Posted at 6:02 AM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 10:09:23-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We have seen a big increase in the number of traffic deaths in the state of Colorado. New data shows there are concerning trends that indicate many of the deadly crashes are because people are driving impaired and using multiple substances.

The Colorado Department of Transportation reports that 691 lives were lost on Colorado roads last year, which is up 50% since 2011. Since 2019, there has been a 44% increase in the number of fatalities involving an impaired driver.

A report from the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice also analyzed more than 26,000 impaired driving cases from Colorado in 2019. 45% of the drivers tested positive for multiple substances. The most common combination of drugs was alcohol and THC.

A spokesperson with the Colorado Springs Police Department says when crashes involve two or more vehicles in El Paso County, a significant number of them involve intoxicated drivers.

Thankfully, traffic accidents this year in El Paso County, are down about 7% from this time last year, and deadly accidents have remained the same.

“We’ve had four fatals this year. That’s exactly what we had this time last year. So we’re at the same number of fatal accidents. When we look at fatals across 2021, we see that there is a significant component that involves intoxicated drivers,” said Lt. Jim Sokolik, with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Injury accidents in El Paso County are also up about 50% from this time last year, but it’s important to note, last year’s numbers were lower than previous years. It’s unclear how many accidents involved impaired drivers.

CSPD has a plan in place to help increase traffic safety in Colorado and impact driving behaviors in our community, and it takes the community’s cooperation.

“The issues are speed and the issues are distracted driving, DUI, and wearing your seat belt. Those are really the four main things that we need to citizens to focus on to help us increase traffic safety here in the Springs,” said Lt. Sokolik.

Part of the plan includes: targeted enforcement like issuing traffic violations, dedicated patrols to go to dangerous areas or high-speed areas and a DUI unit, a red light camera system, and during the school year, checking school crossing zones.