In Colorado and around the country, auto accident fatalities are greater in August than in any other month. Young male drivers are most at risk.

In Colorado, every summer about 12 teenagers die in auto accidents.

August is one of the deadliest months of the year for motorists — in Colorado, too, which has a high incidence of auto accident fatalities during the month. Younger drivers are especially prone to accidents.

Auto accident fatalities add up fast.

According to the American Safety Council, August includes four of the ten deadliest days of the year to be on our nation’s roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that during August, an average of 116 people are killed every day in crashes. Last August in Colorado, 77 motorists were killed on the state’s roads. The second-deadliest month for Colorado drivers was July, with 68 traffic fatalities.

A major reason for the increase in fatalities is that roads tend to be more congested as more people travel during summer holidays and summer vacations. Of course, given the circumstances of the pandemic, it’s an open question whether the pattern will be sustained in August of 2020.

In hopes of better understanding such trends, Nationwide Insurance collects relevant data in part by offering customers a SmartRide: a small device that plugs into a vehicle and monitors the behavior of the driver, including miles driven, hours driven at night, hard braking and acceleration, and idling time.

Young male drivers continue to die at a relatively high rate, including in Colorado.

According to a 2019 report by the Colorado Department of Transportation, data from all crashes in 2017 shows that drivers between the ages of 15 and 34 accounted for more than 30 percent of the state’s fatal crashes. Most who died in this age group were male. Of those between the ages of 15 and 20 killed on the road, 49 were male, 20 female. The ratio is even more lopsided in the case of those between the ages of 21 and 34: 138 of traffic fatalities in this age range were male, 40 female.

The American Automobile Association reports that during the summer months, seven people die every day in crashes involving teenage drivers. According to Skyler McKinley, director of public affairs for AAA Colorado:

“The last decade of data show that teens . . . crash more than adults — and that summertime marks an increase in fatal teen crashes. Per our analysis, for every mile driven, new drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than adults.”

When surveyed, teenage drivers often admit to having indulged in risky driving behavior at least once over the past month: speeding, texting while driving, running red lights, aggressive driving, drowsy driving, and/or driving without a seatbelt.

In addition to unsafe behavior, road conditions can also create dangers. In Colorado, I-25 and I-70 are ranked as the number one and two most dangerous highways to drive during the summer — not good news for Denver drivers, since both interstates run through the area. From 2015 to 2017, there were 60 fatalities on the part of I-25 that runs through Colorado and 51 fatalities in the part of I-70 that runs through Colorado.

Bottom line: drivers should be alert at all times, especially during the dangerous month of August.

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