Colorado traffic safety

Colorado police conducting a field sobriety test. Image from CDOT’s 2016 Colorado Problem Identification Report

The Colorado Department of Transportation recently released its annual report on motor vehicle crash characteristics in the state. The 351-page Fiscal Year 2016 report focuses on crashes that occurred in 2014, and finds that although the state’s vehicle fatality rates are lower than those of the United States overall, alarmingly, road deaths have been increasing in the state.

Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety, said problems identified in the report will help CDOT’s Highway Safety Office to determine the distribution of resources and also help in the creation of prevention programs.

Fatality Statistics

According to CDOT: 

In 2014, speeding-related fatalities, unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities, and fatalities with a driver impaired by alcohol accounted for the three largest proportions of the 488 motor vehicle deaths at 168 (34 percent), 164 (33 percent), and 160 (33 percent), respectively.  The five year trend data indicate that all three factors are increasing, according to the report.

In 2014 there were 451 fatal crashes; 20 crashes more than in 2013.  In the crashes, 488 people  were killed, a 1.5 percent increase from 2013. Counties with the highest number of traffic fatalities were: Weld, 54; El Paso, 53; Jefferson, 44; Denver, 42; and Adams, 33.  

In 2014, there were 12,323 accidents with injuries, 28% more than in 2013. The counties with the largest number of injuries from crashes were Denver, 610; Arapahoe, 382; El Paso, 293; Jefferson, 257; Adams, 243; Weld, 206; Larimer, 164; and Boulder, 180.

Driving While Impaired by Marijuana

The report also touches upon driving while impaired by marijuana, which it calls “an emerging area of interest for Colorado.” CDOT is actively monitoring the phenomenon, although there is not much data on the subject yet. Recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado on January 1, 2014.

A new section has been added to the 2016 report: older drivers. In 2014, 78 of the 684 drivers involved in fatal crashes were age 65 and older, a 17% decrease from 2013. The counties with the largest number of drivers in that age range involved in fatal crashes were Jefferson, 11; Larimer, 6; Weld, 5; Arapahoe, 4; Denver, 4; and El Paso, 4.

Working to Reduce Vehicle Accidents

The Highway Safety Office works with the public to reduce vehicle accidents and their severity in Colorado, and to reduce the human and financial loss that crashes bring. It does so by distributing state and federal funds to groups including law enforcement, local traffic safety organizations, nonprofits, and health and prevention professionals. The grantees use the funds to create educational and enforcement programs to reduce high-risk driving behaviors such as distracted driving, and to reach high-risk driver, such as teens, with their messages.