More fatal crashes happen on Colorado roads during the three months between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other time of year. To keep drivers and passengers safe this summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP), local law enforcement agencies and other safety partners are collaborating to implement several safety enforcement and outreach efforts across the state.
More cars on the road, an increase in motorcyclists and teen drivers, and a historic increase in impaired driving are all factors contributing to a spike in motor vehicle fatalities during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Since 2013, 908 people have died in crashes on Colorado roads between June and August, accounting for nearly one-third of the total traffic fatalities in the state during that period. In 2017, June, July and August accounted for the three months with the highest fatalities compared to other months that year.
"We can't ignore the data -- more fatalities happen on Colorado roads between Memorial Day and Labor Day than any other stretch during the year," said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "That's why we're ramping up our efforts during this 100-day period to ensure everyone travels safely."
"With more cars on the roads there is a higher risk for crashes to happen in the summer," said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the CSP. "We hope our increased efforts during this 100-day span can keep people safe and even save lives."
CDOT will be launching several high-visibility safety campaigns and heightened enforcement periods in an effort to keep Coloradans safe this summer:
Last June, 19 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes on Colorado roads. From June 15-25, CDOT, CSP and local law enforcement agencies are teaming up for the "Summer Blitz" DUI enforcement. CDOT and 101 participating law enforcement agencies hope to save lives by removing impaired drivers from Colorado roads during the heightened enforcement. A total of 508 DUI arrests were made during the enforcement period last year.
CDOT is also getting ready to launch a summer-long effort to promote the use of smartphone breathalyzers to curb impaired driving. In conjunction with BACtack, a manufacturer of personal smartphone breathalyzers, CDOT's goal is to raise awareness among Coloradans of the mobile breathalyzers as a tool to make informed, safe decisions and prevent impaired driving. CDOT representatives will be at various events throughout the summer to reach drinkers and showcase the breathalyzers in person.
Seat Belt Safety
Wearing a seat belt is the best defense to protect you from an impaired or distracted in a crash. To encourage more drivers to buckle up, CDOT, CSP and local law enforcement agencies recently teamed up for a statewide "May Mobilization" Click It or Ticket high-visibility seat belt enforcement from May 21 to June 3. A total of 5,877 drivers and passengers were cited during the enforcement for not buckling up, including 239 drivers who had an improperly restrained child under the age of 15 in their vehicle. The Loveland Police Department (464 citations), Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office (355 citations) and Longmont Police Department (315 citations) recorded the highest number of tickets statewide. In addition, CSP cited 1,658 drivers. Results for all agencies statewide are available at https://apps.coloradodot.info/trafficsafety/SeatBelts/index.cfm
Click It or Ticket will return for a July enforcement period targeting rural areas of Colorado beginning July 16 through July 22. Last year, 1,221 unrestrained drivers and passengers were cited throughout the state during the enforcement.
In conjunction with the Click It or Ticket summer enforcement periods, CDOT is airing new safety ads featuring real Coloradans to promote seat belt use. CDOT interviewed people throughout the state to learn their reasons for buckling up in the hopes that these messages will inspire fellow Coloradans to do the same.
Child Passenger Safety
Only one in four children are properly secured in their car seat, and car crashes are a leading cause of death in children ages 1-12, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To increase car seat safety education and resources for parents, Car Seats Colorado -- a joint initiative between CDOT and CSP -- will host car seat check events in communities across Colorado. In addition, parents and caregivers can have their car seat checked by a certified Child Passenger Safety technician at any time by visiting a Car Seats Colorado inspection station. For more information, resources on proper car seat fit and a list of inspection station locations statewide, visit CarSeatsColorado.com.
Motorcycle deaths have spiked 44 percent in Colorado in recent years. Motorcycle crashes often happen when a driver turns left in front of an oncoming motorcycle. This summer, CDOT's motorcycle campaign will raise awareness of the importance of checking blind spots and "looking twice" for motorcyclists when pulling onto roadways.
Teen Driver Outreach
According to data from AAA, 10 people will die in a crash involving a teen driver each dayduring the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. CDOT will continue public outreach about Colorado's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws designed to help teen drivers develop safe driving skills while following designated restrictions in their first years of driving.