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State patrol: El Paso County fatal crash numbers 'concerning'

65 people have died on roads in El Paso County so far this year
Posted at 8:10 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-15 13:49:17-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Friday night’s fatal crash at the MLK bypass exit on I-25 is just the latest in a series of traffic fatalities we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, and officials blame the rise on dangerous driving behavior.

If you take the numbers at face value, you might not think there’s an issue. but you have to look a little deeper.

“Statewide we are seeing about the same number of fatal crashes this year versus last year,” said CDOT Traffic Safety Manager Sam Cole. “Which is very surprising because traffic volume has been down significantly this year.”

Taking a look at just El Paso County--there’s no way to spin the numbers.

“El Paso County is a huge problem this year,” Cole said. “We’ve seen 65 year to date deaths in El Paso County, which is much higher than Arapahoe County or Denver County which are seeing 30 or 45.”

“It is a little concerning,” said Master Trooper Gary Cutler of the Colorado State Patrol. “People are just not paying attention enough and caring enough about their own safety as well as everybody else’s.”

Cutler believes people are being more brazen.

“It seems like we have everyone in a rush. I’m seeing more of it even happening around my patrol car when I’m driving around,” Cutler said. “I just stopped a guy yesterday for running a red. And we’re not talking about last second. This is two to three seconds. We’re already starting to move into that intersection.”

Before you place the blame on dangerous roads, CDOT wants you to think again.

“It’s not the roads, it’s the drivers,” Cole said. “Over 90 percent of crashes on our roadways are related to people’s poor choices.”

That’s why it’s up to everyone to not only drive safely, but defensively.

“Maybe give you that second or so to swerve out of the way when someone’s coming at you, because it’s a scary thing out on the roads nowadays,” Cutler said.

Cutler said as we enter the winter weather season, we tend to see more crashes. He said a good defensive driving tip is to adjust your thinking based on conditions. If it’s a dry day, drive like it’s a rainy day. If it’s a rainy day, drive like it’s a snowy day, and if it’s a snowy day, drive like it's an icy day.