Despite Fewer Drivers, Fatality Rate Increased
The best-laid plans often go awry. The 2020-2023 Colorado Strategic Transportation Safety Plan released by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) sets a target to reduce traffic fatalities by 15 percent during that time frame. What results did the effort produce in 2020?
Colorado Accidents in 2020
During the first six months of 2020, the state’s stay-at-home order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic kept many Colorado drivers off the roads. From January 1 and June 30, 2020, motorists traveled a total of about 22.1 billion miles. This represents a 17 percent drop from the same period in 2019.
However, fewer drivers did not mean a lower fatality rate. The fatality rate per vehicle mile traveled actually rose by 20 percent to slightly more than one death per 100 million miles. Through August 30, there were a total of 367 traffic fatalities in the state.
The situation in Colorado was apparently a bit worse than in many other states. A study of 22 states (including Colorado) by the traffic engineering firm Sam Schwartz found an average 12 percent increase in the rate of deaths per mile.
Causes of Car Accidents
What factors contribute to auto accidents in Colorado?
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving played a role in 15,673 motor vehicle accidents in Colorado in 2018. According to a 2019 CDOT survey, a third of respondents admitted that within the last week, they had sent a text or an email or posted on social media while driving. But cell phones aren’t the only source of distraction. Parents magazine reported that according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “children are about four times as distracting to drivers as adult passengers are, while babies make it eight times harder to concentrate.”
- Fatalities resulting from automobile accidents have steadily risen since 2011, and speeding is a factor in 35 percent of the deaths. Colorado law requires a “reasonable and prudent” speed at all times. Driving above the speed limit or driving too fast or too slow given the road conditions are all illegal in the state.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving, a Class 2 misdemeanor, is a major cause of car accidents in Colorado. According to AAA Colorado, a likely reason for fatal accidents in the state this year is the fact that reckless drivers treated the empty roads caused by stay-at-home orders as their personal playground. Reckless driving habits include tailgating, driving distracted, drinking and driving, failing to signal traffic maneuvers, and failing to buckle up.
- Wintry conditions. Bad weather often causes loss of traction and lower visibility. Drivers who cannot see the road and surrounding vehicles are more likely to cause an accident. In Colorado, snow squalls often cause accidents by abruptly reducing visibility, making roads slippery, and catching drivers by surprise so that they find it harder to react properly if their car begins to skid.
Contact an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact the Law Offices of Daniel R. Rosen online or call 303-454-8000 or 800-ROSEN-911 to schedule your free initial consultation with an experienced Colorado automobile accident attorney today.