Tag Archives: Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler

Trooper Tips: A Call to Action

On November 11, the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office reported this one car rollover on CO Highway 285 at mile marker 107, just North of Villa Grove. A reminder to practice safe driving habits as the icy winter months come on. Photo SCSO

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!

Bad Weather Driving Safety Tips

Bad Weather Driving – Some Call It Ski Season

By Trooper Gary Cutler

It’s that time of year again, which means snow storms are on the horizon.  Bad weather isn’t all that bad, because with it comes all of the fun activities we like to do in Colorado such as skiing, sledding, skiing, hiking, and skiing/snowboarders.

I joke about the ski season, but when we see a good snowstorm, that’s when skiers and snowboarders head to the slopes in larger groups than normal.  Let’s talk about the situations where we just have to get around in snow storms.

Reduced speed is always a key factor in staying safe when driving on snow, or ice packed roadways.  It’s winter, so make sure you take that extra step to have the time to drive to your destination safely, which means slower than normal speeds.  Bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean we have to have bad driving.

One situation that worries me is black ice.  Ice is the unseen danger that is often a factor in winter time driving.  I’ve seen people going lower speeds when they are on snow packed roads only to speed up to, or beyond the speed limit once the road clears.  The road may still be wet, and with cold temperatures, that means it can and often freezes to the road surface.  Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not still there.

Sag_3

The Veterans Day storm left roads icy and snow packed on Monday morning across the San Luis Valley.

Slick roads also mean it’s harder to stop when less than favorable road conditions exist.  Give that extra distance needed to stop when snow or ice is present.  It’s hard to give just one correct distance for bad road conditions.  Use good common sense and the rule of thumb that it could take double the distance on wet roads and up to as much as 10 times the distance on snow and ice packed roadways to safely stop.

Also be prepared to travel in bad weather.  This means having enough “survival gear” to make it through a dangerous situation if you get stuck on the roadway.  This doesn’t always mean you’re stuck because you have crashed or slid off the roadway.  It could be just that the weather is so bad the roadways have been shut down and you are stuck with everyone else traveling with no way to get off the road for a while.

Even when you are just going on a short trip, there can be situations where you need emergency equipment with you.  The items that can save a life are blankets, flares/emergency triangles, water, shovel, food/snacks, and cell phone.  I probably don’t have to remind anyone to make sure they bring their phone though.

Here are my final tips for winter driving.  When roads are dry, drive as if it’s raining.  When roads are wet, drive as if it’s snowing.  When roads have snow on it, drive as if it’s ice.  When roads have ice on it, think about staying home that day.

So there you have it, a few simple tips to help keep you safe when driving in bad weather this year. As always, safe travels!

Roll Over_saguache Sheriff

On November 11, the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office reported this one car rollover on CO Highway 285 at mile marker 107, just North of Villa Grove. A reminder to practice safe driving habits as the icy winter months come on. Photo SCSO