Tag Archives: Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler

Trooper Tips: Older Drivers

By Master Trooper Gary Cutler

Driving is a feeling of freedom you get when you’re able to just travel wherever you wish.  But, there may come a point in time when either you or someone close to you must make the decision to put the keys away and find another way to commute.

Talking to an older person about their driving can be difficult and is often delayed until their driving is to a point of being dangerous.  But if delayed too long, it can be a hesitation that can turn fatal.

I speak from personal experience when I lost my grandmother in a crash.  The signs were there prior to the fatal crash, but we failed to see them as a serious enough problem and hesitated in having her stop driving.  It started with a few scratches here and there on the car, and pulling into the garage a little too far.  Perhaps, if we had acted upon those signs we may have had her around longer.

Years later when another driving situation approached my family, we didn’t hesitate to take action.  My father began to show signs of having trouble driving due to early-onset dementia and we took steps to keep him from driving and possibly hurting himself or someone else.  A problem you may face is the older driver believing they are driving fine, when in fact you are seeing dangerous problems.  I won’t tell you it was easy to have the conversation.  My father was upset with us for a while, but I would do it again to make sure it keeps everyone safe.

Older drivers get tips from Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler
Night driving can get tricky for older motorists.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2018, 19% of all fatal crashes were caused by drivers 65 years and older.  Now this doesn’t mean just because you turn 65 you should have your driver’s license taken from you.  Far from it, it just means it’s time to start being aware of any changes.  For a start, keep track of eyesight, physical fitness, and reflexes.

Saguache Today columnist Trooper Gary Cutler is the Public Information Officer for the Colorado State Patrol. A Public Information Officer is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer media questions.

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!