Rise Is Part of Statewide Spike in Traffic Fatalities
You’d think traveling on your own two feet would be the safest form of transportation available. Maybe it is, but you might pause to rethink that if you knew that 84 Colorado pedestrians died in accidents involving motor vehicles in 2016. That’s five times the 16 bicyclists who shared the same fate.
Fatalities among Colorado pedestrians, including walkers and runners, reached a 15-year peak in 2016, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. The 84 deaths represent a 31 percent increase from 2015 when there were only 64 deaths. The deaths of 20 pedestrians in the first three months of 2017 put Colorado on pace for 80 fatalities this year.
The figures are part of an already horrific record for 2016 when at least 605 people died in all types of roadway crashes. People riding in cars and trucks made up 382 deaths, while motorcyclists accounted for 125.
Police suspected that 196 of the deaths were related to drivers’ use of drugs and alcohol, The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reported.
“This spike in pedestrian fatalities far outweighed the surge in overall vehicle fatalities, which increased by 12 percent in 2016,” CDOT said in its report on the deaths. About 63 percent of pedestrians killed in 2015 weren’t using a crosswalk at an intersection, CDOT said.
One Death in Colorado Is Too Many
In Colorado Springs, the state’s second-largest city by population, CDOT tallied 31 traffic fatalities in 2016, including the deaths of seven pedestrians. Reporter Kaitlin Durbin covered the issue in Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper.
Although the number of pedestrian-vehicle accident deaths in Colorado Springs actually dropped from eight in 2015, the city continues to see more than enough of the tragedies.
“The topic resonates in a community that this year has mourned the loss of a 9-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, both killed as they crossed the street,” Durbin wrote.
The 16-year-old boy was killed as he ran into the street on his way to school and was hit by a car. The driver was not cited. The 9-year-old girl was crossing an intersection with an adult in January when they were both struck by a turning car. That driver was on probation for a DUI and was cited on two counts of careless driving and two other traffic infractions.
Four young children were hit inside a crosswalk feet from their school. One was seriously injured.
CDOT officials say the stories of tragedy highlight a need for reminders of proper pedestrian safety across the state, Durbin reported. Responsibility also rests with drivers, whom CDOT is reminding to slow down and avoid distractions, especially while in pedestrian zones.
Fred Estrian Is Back on the Job
The increasing deaths caused CDOT to renew its “Fred Estrian” pedestrian safety campaign. It features a walk signal brought to life, “Fred Estrian,” that will be featured throughout the state in various media including billboards, radio, and social media.
Sam Cole, CDOT traffic safety communications manager, said:
“Fred witnessed a lot of pedestrian crashes and hundreds of near misses in 2016. The campaign is here again to remind drivers and pedestrians alike of pedestrian laws and how to avoid crashes.”