COLORADO SPRINGS – More than 500 people have died in 2018 on Colorado roads due to traffic crashes.
“If there’s any good news, we’re actually trending lower this year than we were last year,” commented Sam Cole, communications manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
Except for southeast Colorado, especially El Paso County, which is leading the state in a race nobody wants to win.
“We want to be number one for a lot of things here, the best place for veterans to live [for example], but we don’t want to be the number one worst place to be a pedestrian or bicyclist or a driver,” stated Maile Gray, executive director of Drive Smart Colorado.
Over the last several years, El Paso County has seen significant increases in traffic fatalities. According to CDOT records, there were 41 traffic deaths recorded in 2010 and 48 in 2015.
However, more than 70 have already been recorded this year, with two months left.
That’s a nearly 80 percent increase in deaths on the road in the past eight years, And this year “Over half of those [fatal wrecks] have taken place in the city of Colorado Springs,” continued Cole.
The numbers for the Springs are just as shocking. With CDOT only reporting 20 traffic fatalities in 2010 and 26 in 2015.
As of Nov. 7, there have already been 46 traffic-related deaths in city limits, a number exceeding previous fatality records.
“We thought that last year was out of control,” stated Gray.
That’s a morbid increase of almost 50 percent from where we were last year.
As for why it’s happening, “I will tell you that we have speeding, impairment and lack of seat belts, ” continued Gray.
Then there’s distracted driving, road construction, and population growth.
“We’re kind of in a perfect storm,” she finished.
To counteract the rising death toll, organizations across the state are looking for solutions, “As far as addressing this issue, there’s a 3-pronged approach,” continued Cole.
There’s educating, engineering new and safer roadways and traffic conditions, and enforcing rules and driving restrictions.
“We’re working on it, but we are really fighting a losing battle,” said Gray.
Here in the Springs, organizations like Drive Smart, and the city, and law enforcement are trying to work together to make roads safer
“These are not just things we can roll out tomorrow,” stated Gray. “We are in it for the long haul.”
But road safety is not just in the hands of these safety oriented organizations. They say drivers should evaluate and possibly change their habits behind the wheel.
“We are personally responsible for our own behavior, and that is the only thing that is going to solve this,” finished Gray.
To find out more regarding Drive Smart Colorado safety campaigns and initiatives, you can visit their website.