The Colorado Department of Transportation is taking extra steps in 2016 to encourage drivers to wear seat belts. Data show that almost half of the traffic fatalities in the state in 2015 involved people who were not wearing seat belts. This alarming statistic was accompanied by the announcement that in 2015, traffic deaths in Colorado increased by 10% to 545, the first time since 2008 that there were more than 500 road fatalities.
Elizabeth Hernandez, writing in The Denver Post, quotes CDOT spokesman Sam Cole, who said the Department cannot explain the increase in fatalities. Cole said motorcyclists would be safer if they wore helmets, did not drive while impaired, and if motorists were more careful to look out for them. There was a 10% increase in motorcycle deaths in 2015 in Colorado, 104, compared with 94 in the previous year. The 2015 number is an all-time high. CDOT has allocated $300,000 in fiscal 2016 for motorcycle safety campaigns directed at both drivers and motorcyclists.
CDOT wrote that most of the 2015 traffic deaths were caused by risky behaviors, such as driving while impaired, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, driving while distracted, and not wearing a seat belt. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said these accidents are entirely preventable. Hernandez urged drivers to “Kick off the new year by buckling up, dropping the distractions, and focusing on driving.”
The counties with the largest number of 2015 road fatalities were Jefferson, with 56; Weld, with 55; Denver, with 49; and El Paso, with 44. Of the 545 fatalities throughout the state, 32% were alcohol-related.
Seat Belts for Safety
Statewide, 15% of drivers and passengers do not wear their seat belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 60 lives could be saved if everyone buckled up.
“In FY2016 CDOT awarded $3.5 million to non-profit organizations, law enforcement, and local government agencies to conduct programs aimed at reducing crashes,” CDOT wrote. Many of these seek to prevent alcohol-related car accidents. Colorado’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, released in 2015, includes “Moving Colorado Towards Zero Deaths” as a core value. One of its goals is to reduce traffic fatalities to 416 by 2019.
National Rise in Traffic Deaths
CDOT noted that the increase in 2015 was part of a national trend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in November that in the first half of 2015 there was a troubling increase in the number of fatalities — up 8.1 percent from the first half of 2014.
In the comments to The Denver Post article, someone using the name “Old school” asks of the traffic deaths:
And how many of them are cellphone related? Politicians and carmakers and cellphone manufacturers sit on their hands doing nothing while the technology exists to disable phones and iPads etc while the vehicle is in motion!
GET IT DONE! Let the right and left complain about government overreach but people cannot be trusted to follow the law and it is killing our kids and destroying families unnecessarily!