Over the 2018 holiday season this year, Colorado had a wakeup call. Starting Christmas Eve, Colorado lost nine lives in seven crashes in 72 hours.
Those killed ranged from teenagers to grandparents. The news talked about the loss of lives, and people talked about it around friends and family, but most went about their daily lives after hearing the news.
If these people had been killed in a different way – say they were shot during the same period of time – the outcry from the public would have reached the heavens. But, for some strange reason, deaths in traffic crashes have been accepted as something that just happens. It needs to be acknowledged as a true, tragic issue, and needs to be stopped.
On Dec. 27, when state troopers heard of the fifth death that day, we decided we had to step up and get the public to act on preventing crashes. It starts with a message to Coloradans that it has to stop. The chief of the Colorado State Patrol, Matthew Packard, made a video with a powerful statement to the residents of the state. He hearkened that we need a call to action to help protect the public from dying senseless deaths. We hope this will be the beginning of a movement to protect the public.
The Colorado State Patrol is seeing crashes involving DUI/DUID, lane violations, speeding, exceeding safe speed, and being inattentive to driving as some of our most common reasons for fatal crashes. Another reason is some people still refuse to wear a seat belt, and we know it can save lives. I want you to know it’s not just limited to fatal crashes; Coloradans need to be aware there are just too many crashes, period.
The State Patrol is in charge of traffic safety in all unincorporated areas throughout Colorado. There are five State Patrol districts with subsequent troop offices within them, strategically positioned throughout the state to handle crashes. During that deadly 72-hour period, fatal crashes happened in all five districts.
The State Patrol is focused on eliminating crashes, yet crashes continue to plague the state. The number of fatal crashes are higher in some counties than others; Weld County leads the state in both fatal and injury crashes. Metro and rural areas both have too many crashes.
I listed the top problem as violations where drivers are not taking responsibility to drive safely seriously, but this isn’t the entire list of areas with issues. It takes every agency, every corporation, every household, every person in the state to lower the amount of fatal and injury crashes we are experiencing. You have that responsibility.
Over the next few months, my articles will focus on the causes of the crashes throughout the state this past year. We will also look into what steps you can take to walk away from a crash if you are unfortunately involved in one.
What I want everyone to know is that traffic crashes are preventable and that is why we don’t call them “accidents.” Also seat belt use significantly increases survivability in a crash.
As always, safe travels!
Trooper Tips is published occasionally in The Journal. Contact Trooper Gary Cutler, a public information officer for the Colorado State Patrol in Denver, at email@example.com or 720-670-7403.