Aggressive Driving, Jaywalking Contribute to Problem
The National Safety Council (NSC) recently announced a preliminary finding that deadly auto accidents seem to be leveling off, and actually showed a slight decrease in 2018 when compared with 2017. While that is encouraging, safety officials here in Colorado are not as optimistic and even sounding the alarm as one city records more traffic deaths in 2018 than ever before.
Colorado Springs Sees Another Deadly Year
The NSC estimates that 40,000 lives were lost last year to accidents, with another 4.5 million people sustaining injuries. That national number reflects a slight decrease from 2017 and 2016. Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wyoming saw nearly a 10 percent drop in crashes, according to the NSC. Conversely, several states saw an uptick in the number of accidents while others, including Colorado, have seen fluctuating numbers over the years. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, the state recorded 632 traffic fatalities last year, a slight decrease from 2017, but an increase from 2016 and a dramatic increase from 2015, when the state recorded 547 traffic deaths. A national survey conducted last year shows that when it comes to national rankings of deadliest roads, Colorado comes in at No. 31 among the states. Within the state, one city stands out, and not in a positive way: Colorado Springs. By September, the city had tallied almost as many traffic fatalities as in all of 2017 and eventually ended the year with 48 deaths due to auto accidents. When it comes to the main reasons for these crashes, news reports say police point to three leading causes:
- Impaired driving
- Distracted driving.
Sgt. Jim Stinson of the Colorado Springs Police Department notes that drivers in the city tend to go 10 mph over the speed limit, and that is dangerous. As Stinson noted:
“We’re competitive drivers, and you don’t see people allowing people to come in in front of them or waving thanks or anything, it just always seems to be a competition … like video games.”
Unlike the thrill rides in video games, however, there is no reset button when things go wrong. “Once you’re dead, you’re dead,” Stinson said. “It’s over.”
Jaywalking Contributes to Problem
Not all vehicle crashes are caused by the person behind the wheel. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) annually reports traffic fatalities involving pedestrians, and it notes that preliminary numbers for 2018 show that 6,227 pedestrians were killed, the most in nearly 30 years. One reason for the increase noted by GHSA is that people are walking more at night and away from intersections or sidewalks. Police also point to another problem contributing to pedestrian fatalities, and that is jaywalking, which authorities say is one of the most common causes of fatal auto accidents in Colorado Springs. A few years ago, there was an article posted that even named Colorado Springs the jaywalking capital of America. As author Bernardo Bermudez in a post at US Represented, “Pedestrians and motorists alike need to be responsible and set an example for the young generation literally following in their footsteps. We all need to be responsible and make the roads a safer place in our community.”
That statement is as true today as it was a few years ago. Keeping our streets safe depends on those in vehicles as well as those walking. There is no excuse for not abiding by all traffic laws regardless of how you are moving about. Whether you are in a car or on foot or a bicycle, safety begins with you.