If you recently were involved in a car crash in Colorado, you should know that you are not alone. Every year, motorists report thousands of accidents on our roads, including fender benders, to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, many of these crashes result in the loss of lives.
For several years, The Sawaya Law Firm has tracked fatal accidents in Colorado in our Interactive Crash Map, which presents data obtained through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). We recently added 2017 fatal traffic crash data to the map, which goes back to 2010. We hope people use this map to put their own crash in perspective and to better understand the traffic accident problem in our state.
It’s interesting to note that, in 2015, Colorado announced the adoption of a new traffic safety plan dubbed “Moving Colorado Towards Zero Deaths.” At the time, Governor John Hickenlooper discussed how “even one death is one too many” on Colorado roads. The plan called for incorporating innovative and data-driven strategies aimed at reducing traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.
However, as our analysis of the data in our Interactive Crash Map indicates, the number of fatal crashes in Colorado has actually gone up since 2015. Specifically, the crash total went up by 18 percent, from 507 in 2015 to 599 in 2017. The 599 fatal accidents in 2017 was:
- 44 more than the 555 reported in 2016 – an 8 percent increase
- 188 more than the 411 reported in 2010 – a 45 percent increase.
You can use the map and our accompanying bar chart to find out specific information about these crashes. For instance, you can use the map to get answers to questions such as:
Where Do Fatal Crashes Most Often Occur?
The map can help you to identify which cities have the most crashes that result in death. You can also see where these crashes occur in specific communities and even which specific highways, city streets and intersections have the most fatal accidents. As you can see on the map, Denver and surrounding communities such as Lakewood, Englewood and Aurora have the heaviest concentration of accidents in the state.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Crashes?
The map places the contributing factors in crashes into seven categories, with each category distinguished by a color:
- Yellow – Alcohol use-reported
- Green – Drug use-reported
- Blue – Distracted driving
- Purple – Careless/inattentive driving
- Black – Aggressive driving
- Orange – Reckless/negligent driving
- Red – Failure to yield.
You can see the different types of crashes in the different-colored pins on the map. When you click on a pin, it will tell you information about the specific crash such as where the crash occurred, date of the crash, number of fatalities and contributing factors. The pins can help you to identify, for instance, certain roads where alcohol-use reported accidents are most likely to occur.
The map, along with the chart below, indicate that the leading contributing factors in deadly crashes in Colorado in 2017 were:
Factor Leading to a Crash and Number Drivers Affected
- Careless/inattentive driving: 462
- Alcohol use-reported: 277
- Reckless/negligent driving: 230
- Drug use-reported: 120
- Distracted driving: 96
- Failure to yield: 72
- Aggressive driving: 62.
It’s important to note that multiple factors may be listed for a single crash that appears on the map.
We also looked back through the data to 2010 and determined that the leading causes of crashes in Colorado were (based on the average number of drivers involved in fatal crashes per year):
- Careless/inattentive driving: 299
- Alcohol use-reported: 138
- Reckless/negligent driving: 111
- Distracted driving: 74
- Drug use-reported: 64
- Failure to yield: 49
- Aggressive driving: 44
(The map notes that the NHTSA did not begin to use “reckless/negligent driving” as a category until 2012.)
It’s interesting to note that the number of drivers involved in fatal distracted driving-related crashes peaked at 89 in 2012. By 2014, the number dropped by roughly 33 percent to 59 fatalities. Part of the “Zero Deaths” initiative has been a campaign aimed at stopping people from using their phones to talk or text while driving.
Additionally, “drug use-reported” has been increasingly listed as a factor in deadly car crashes in Colorado since 2014, which is the year when the commercial sale of recreational-use marijuana to the general public began in the state. In 2014, 64 drivers were listed as being in drug-use reported fatal crashes. In 2017, that number surged to 120, or an increase of 87.5 percent.
Whether a correlation exists between the liberalization of the state’s marijuana laws and the number of fatal car crashes remains to be seen. The map does not specify which types of drugs played a role in the crash. Opioids and crystal methamphetamine (“meth”), for instance, are two types of drugs which have seen a sharp increase in use in recent years.
Finally, alcohol has steadily risen through the years as a contributing factor. This has been true despite numerous legislative, law enforcement and public awareness campaigns to combat the problem of drinking and driving. In 2010, only 98 drivers were listed as being involved in fatal alcohol use-reported crashes. In 2017, that number hit 277.
What Age Groups are Involved in Most Accidents?
As you can see on the map and in the accompanying bar chart, certain age groups are more likely to get involved in fatal crashes than others. In fact, the 21-34 age group had the highest number of drivers involved in fatal crashes (512), while the 65-older age group had the lowest (151).
The 21-34 age group led in all categories of crashes. In a few categories, the age group had more than twice as many drivers involved in fatal crashes as the nearest age group. For instance, the 21-34 age group had 123 drivers in fatal drunk driving accidents, while the 35-49 age group had 55.
The 65-older age group had the lowest total number of drivers in deadly crashes in each category except for two:
- In careless/inattentive driving, the age group had 84 drivers in fatal crashes, while the 15-20 group had 46.
- In failure to yield, the age group had more than any other group with 27 drivers in fatal crashes (the 21-34 group had 24).
Additionally, the 65-older age group tied with the 15-20 group for lowest number of drivers in fatal distracted driving accidents with 11 each.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Colorado, you may be in need of help. Contact The Sawaya Law Firm for help with your claim today.