Colorado is a state of diverse landscapes with stunning scenery and beautiful attractions. However, unfortunately, it’s also the state which has been witnessing a dramatic rise in traffic deaths for the past few years. According to 2022’s statewide traffic fatality data released by the Colorado Department of Transportation, the toll was up to an alarming 745 fatalities .
Despite this, authorities believe that nearly all fatal accidents are preventable 90% of the time. These accidents often result from human error, such as speeding, driving under the influence, negligent attitude, and more. In fact, most major car accidents in Colorado stem from one of these 10 common causes.
1. Driving Under the Influence
Despite repeated awareness campaigns by CDOT, driving under the influence (DUI) remains one of the leading causes of automobile accidents. Colorado State Patrol reported a 7% increase in impaired driving as the reason for fatal car crashes .
DUI is limited to not only the consumption of alcohol but also other substances (drugs) like marijuana, cocaine, and heroin that impair the critical brain systems crucial for safe driving. Both alcohol and marijuana are classified as central nervous system depressants, meaning it slows down cognitive functions such as sound judgment and reaction time. Moreover, it also impairs perception, coordination, and motor skills that are crucial behind the wheel. Certain prescribed drugs also render drivers incapable of driving. Physicians advise against going in such cases, and patients should strictly follow the guidelines.
The state of Colorado, like others, has strict laws and penalties to combat DUI. For drivers above the age of 21, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08%. In contrast, drivers under 21 years are limited to 0.02%. Similarly, marijuana consumption is confined to 5 nanograms per millimeter of blood for drivers. Surpassing the legal limit would result in unfavorable consequences like fines, mandatory DUI education programs, license suspension, and imprisonment.
2. Distracted Driving
According to the 2022 Colorado Driver Behavior Survey, 63% of drivers admitted that they indulge in some activity while driving, distracting them from the primary task. While the number is not surprising considering the hike in traffic deaths, it’s sad that most people give so little value to their own and other people’s lives.
The most common distractions are technological advancements, encompassing cellphone use such as texting, calling, or other apps. Dealing with GPS can be highly distracting as navigating the roads or looking for directions also diverts the driver’s attention from the road.
Apart from cell phone usage, other common distractions are also present, which hinder the process of safe driving. Switching the music till you land on your favorite track, eating, drinking, being interested in other passengers, or playing with children also shifts your focus away from the main goal.
While these activities may seem harmless, sometimes negligence of a second results in fatal accidents, from where there is no coming back. Therefore, it’s essential to be vigilant and mindful while driving to avoid being a part of any casualty.
Speed limits are set based on many factors, such as road design and curves, residential or commercial locations, traffic patterns, and potential hazards. These limits are posted on the roadside for your safety. Adhering to them will benefit you and your loved ones because speeding is still one of the other common causes of tragic road deaths.
Many drivers exceed the speed limit out of thrill, forgetting that life is not something to play with. Doing this jeopardizes them, the passengers, and pedestrians because the car often gets out of control. When this happens, navigating the vehicle around any unexpected obstacle is challenging. The faster the automobile travels, the greater the force upon impact during a collision, which may lead to tragic events such as severe brain and spinal cord injuries, property damage, and in extreme cases, death.
There are also scenarios where the driver might be speeding up for some emergency. While it may seem the right choice now, as it’s the hour of need, one should stay within the speed limit. The panic in these cases is at its peak, which clouds the judgment and may be hazardous for yourself and other people on the roads.
4. Reckless Driving
Many drivers indulge in reckless driving, signaling clear-cut disobedience of traffic rules and regulations. An increase in aggressive driving has put the Colorado Department of Transportation in a worrisome state. Many car crashes can be attributed to this negligent behavior, and the consequences were devastating.
It’s an alarming situation that drivers exhibit willful disregard for the safety of themselves and others on the road. The typical examples of this type of driving include speeding, changing lanes without signaling, racing, cutting off other motorists, taking over, tailgating (teasing another driver by following their car too closely), and many other reckless behaviors.
The impact of this negligent attitude can range from minor to severe injuries, depending on the damage incurred to people or property. Moreover, it’s a serious offense and is considered a class 2 traffic misdemeanor crime in Colorado. There are legal penalties to face if found guilty, which can be anywhere from fines to criminal charges.
5. Fatigued Drivers
Fatigued driving, also known as drowsy driving, is another significant cause of automobile accidents in Colorado. Numerous studies have shown that the effects on driving performance are similar when driving in a fatigued state or DUI. In both cases, the ability to make rational decisions is remarkably slower. The reaction time is also delayed, which further poses difficulties.
Different factors such as sleep disorders, tight schedules, long working hours, and inadequate sleep can cause driver fatigue. The state of drowsiness is not fit to get behind wheels, so whenever you’re feeling difficulty focusing, struggling with yawning or feeling like dozing off, it’s better to take a rest at some inn or hotel.
You can also share the driving responsibility with another licensed driver and need as much to regain strength. Adequate breaks are essential to avoid road mishaps, especially during long-distance trips.
6. Inexperienced Drivers
Driving is a skill that you master with practice and time. Fresh drivers, or new drivers, need more techniques to learn to stay safe on the road. The limited exposure to various driving situations causes trouble for drivers to navigate their way safely.
The biggest obstacle inexperienced drivers face is their need for more understanding of traffic rules and regulations. Although their training is complete, and they’ve obtained their driver’s license, practical skills like navigating complex interactions, merging on the highways, or making quick decisions based on road conditions might be challenging.
7. Poor Weather Conditions
Colorado is famous for its diverse weather patterns, which sometimes become the unfortunate reason for car accidents. Snow and rain wreak havoc on the state, resulting in many unwanted accidents.
During colder months, Colorado experiences heavy snowfall, accumulating on the road and posing many challenges. The icy road surfaces with reduced visibility make driving challenging, and navigating the vehicle safely in these times requires skill. There is a high chance of skidding and losing control, leading to tragic accidents.
Another hazardous driving condition that influences car accidents is heavy rain. They can cause the road to become slick and slippery, thus posing a challenge to drive safely. At times with heavy rain, thunderstorms also come, which worsens the situation, as rain makes it difficult to see the road ahead clearly. Strong winds also affect the stability of automobiles as many high-profile vehicles, such as trucks, can sway or push off in open areas under the influence of the winds.
8. Driver Negligence
Another factor that greatly contributes to Colorado car accidents is negligence on the driver’s part. Some drivers don’t obey traffic laws and drive away even when the signal is red or yellow. Their deliberate act puts many people at risk, especially when they exhibit this behavior on a heavy traffic road.
Some drivers also make illegal turns, such as driving on the wrong side or making sharp U-turns which puts the stability of the vehicle at risk. The sudden turn of one vehicle may also come as unexpected to other automobiles on the road, and drastic collisions can happen if the car is not controlled.
9. Vehicle Issues
Technical or mechanical issues in vehicles often contribute to car accidents. Various vehicle issues like faulty brakes, malfunctioning headlights, worn-out tires, problems with steering or suspension, and broken mirrors can maximize the risk of fatal car accidents.
Any fault on the vehicle’s part would significantly impact its performance, thus ultimately affecting the driver. Therefore, the management of the car is essential on a regular or monthly basis to avoid any accidents. Emphasis should be placed on routine inspection to reduce the likelihood of unfortunate events.
10. Road Conditions
Road conditions play a crucial role in influencing car accidents in Colorado. The poor weather already poses many risks, and if kept unchecked (failure to clear snow), they cause problems for drivers.
Similarly, poorly maintained roads like large potholes, uneven surfaces, objects in the street, lack of guardrails, speed limit signs, warning signs, or even traffic lights also pose many challenges for drivers. Failure to clean hazardous chemicals or oil spills also plays a part as it causes roads to be more slippery, which can result in vehicles getting out of control.
Involved in a Colorado Car Accident? We Can Help
As you can see, many of these common causes of Colorado car accidents are not only the direct result of a driver’s decisions, but completely avoidable. If you were involved in a Colorado car accident due to a driver’s negligence, you deserve fair compensation for your physical injuries and emotional distress.
Contact Legal Help in Colorado today so you can start the personal injury settlement process and start moving on with your life.