Preliminary accident reports from 2021 suggest Colorado was on track for its highest number of motorist fatalities in more than a decade.
In late 2020, Colorado Public Radio reported a significant increase in the statewide rate of traffic fatalities despite an overall decrease in the amount of traffic during the pandemic. Although state officials reportedly expressed hope that fewer vehicles on the road would mean fewer traffic deaths, statistics show the fatality rate per vehicle mile traveled increased by 20 percent in 2020. Initial data indicates the trend persisted through 2021.
Crash Statistics Show 2021 Might Prove to Be Colorado’s Deadliest in Years
In late November 2021, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) reported 590 people had already died in statewide traffic accidents since January. The deadliest year in recent times was 2002, when 677 motorists were killed, according to records from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Authorities point out that traffic volume typically increases during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which means more drivers and a higher risk of deadly accidents. In addition to more drivers on the road, holiday festivities can tempt people to drink in excess, increasing the likelihood of drunk driving wrecks. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how Colorado traffic fatalities could reach record-breaking levels before 2021 is over.
CSP has reportedly focused its efforts on areas with historically high concentrations of fatal crashes in response to these warning signs. CSP hopes to curb the rate of fatal accidents by increasing enforcement in high-traffic areas such as Fort Morgan, I-25 near Castle Rock, and I-70 near Frisco.
Why Are Fatal Accidents Trending Higher in Colorado?
Researchers speculate that these shocking traffic trends may be attributable to the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic.
Although fewer people were driving in 2020, those who did drive may have been encouraged to make riskier driving decisions due to the novel openness of empty roads. A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in mid-2021 supported this theory. It noted that the top contributing factors in 2020 traffic fatalities were reckless behaviors such as speeding, impaired driving, and driving without a seatbelt.
Other reports from 2020 show Colorado law enforcement officers arrested 354 intoxicated drivers during the week of Thanksgiving alone. This holiday season, law enforcement officers braced themselves for a similar outbreak of impaired and potentially deadly drivers.
What Were the Common Causes of Accidents in the Past Year?
In 2020 and throughout the past year, CSP officials say the main causal factors in Colorado traffic accidents include lane violations and impaired driving. Common lane violations include failure to remain within a single lane, improper passing maneuvers, and unsafe lane-change maneuvers. Impaired driving behaviors include drunk driving and driving under the influence of illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Attorneys for Help Getting Compensation
If you were injured in a Colorado traffic accident, you have the right to seek fair compensation for your losses. Contact the expert Colorado personal injury lawyers at the Olson Law Firm, LLC to learn more about your recovery options in a free initial consultation.