By Trooper Gary Cutler
Over the 2018 holiday season this year, Colorado had a wakeup call. Starting Christmas Eve, and continuing through the next 72 hours, Colorado lost a total of 9 lives in 7 crashes. Those killed ranged from teenagers all the way to grandparents. The news talked about the loss of lives, people talked about it around friends and family; but pretty much Colorado went about its daily life 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 December 27 2018, when Troopers heard of the fifth person dying that single day, we decided we had to step up and get the public to act on preventing crashes; it starts with a message to Coloradoans 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 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 we have dying in crashes is some people still refuse to wear their seatbelt, and we know it would have saved their life. I want you to know it’s not just limited to fatal crashes; Coloradoans need to be aware there are way too many crashes as well.
The State Patrol is in charge of traffic safety in all unincorporated areas throughout Colorado. There are 5 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 5 State Patrol districts.
The State Patrol is focused on eliminating crashes, yet crashes continue to plague the state. The fatal crashes are worse in some counties, than others; these are El Paso, Adams, and Jefferson. Weld County in particular leads the state in both fatal and injury crashes. The crashes aren’t a metro or rural area problem either; both areas have far too many crashes.
I listed the top problem 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 call them crashes and not accidents. Also survivability in a crash is exponentially raised by the use of seatbelts.
As always, safe travels!