DENVER – More than 670 people were killed on Colorado roads in 2021 – the most deaths in 19 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
The number of traffic deaths reported last year – 672 – also marked a 50% increase from the 447 deaths reported over the past decade.
On Tuesday, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), along with the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) and CDOT urged Coloradans to reduce risky driving behaviors and drive like lives depend on it.
“We allocate tremendous resources into maintaining a safe and reliable statewide travel system,” said John Lorme, director of maintenance and 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.”
The report shows traffic deaths involving impaired drivers increased 16% from 212 in 2020 to 246 in 2021.
CDOT’s report also showed that while deadly motorcycle, pedestrian and bicycle crashes remained steady last year, deaths involving people inside vehicles jumped up by 22%, with many of those crashes involving people not wearing seatbelts. CDOT officials say seat belts save an estimated 200 lives each year, but their 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 rise in traffic fatalities is not only occurring in big cities, according to CDOT. Preliminary data shows traffic deaths increase 37% in Pueblo County compared to 29% in Denver County.
“Please treat driving with the respect it demands,” said Vincent Niski, the chief of police for the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Per CDOT, the counties with the most traffic deaths in 2021 were:
- El Paso: 77
- Adams: 66
- Denver: 65
- Jefferson: 50
- Arapahoe: 50
- Weld: 46
All three agencies urged Colorado drivers to never drive while under the influence, avoid speeding, always buckle up, never text and drive and use extra caution around pedestrians and bicyclists.
CDOT said the agencies will implement a “variety of enforcement, education and engineering initiatives to increase safety on Colorado roads.”