Keep Your Eyes on the Road & Your Hands Upon the Wheel Colorado
I was once making polite small talk with a newly hired co-worker who just moved to Colorado, and in our banter, we touched on some of the differences between Colorado and where she was from. We talked about the weather, the food, the mountains, and because I'm a horribly unimaginative conversationalist, we talked about traffic. But then she said something I didn't expect, and that was "there aren't as many accidents here, but when you see them they're really bad. I mean they make your heart sink."
Now I'm not going to go into the exact details of what I've seen out there, but it was more than enough to agree, and that made me think -- what exactly are those accident statistics?
As it turns out, Colorado's traffic fatalities are up 24 percent since 2014 and motorcycle deaths are at an all-time high, according to CDOT's 2017 Traffic-Related Fatalities Report
"Colorado is growing, but that doesn't mean traffic fatalities must grow too," quipped Shailen Bhatt CDOT's Executive Director. "A lot can be done to mitigate the increase; for example, if everyone buckled up we could save over 60 lives per year."
And she's not wrong. The 3-point seatbelt might be the single most important safety innovation in automotive history, so important that Nils Bohlin (the Volvo engineer that invented it) has been credited with saving over 1 million lives, received a gold medal from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science, and is an inductee in the Automotive Hall of Fame.
Yet CDOT says that 16 percent of Coloradans still don't wear a seatbelt and that people who don't wear their seatbelt represent nearly half (49 percent) of all vehicle fatalities.
For motorcycles, the data is even more foreboding. 2016 marks the highest total number of fatalities Colorado has ever seen at 125. Again, the majority of those riders were not wearing a helmet and experts estimate that 25 riders could be saved each year if 100 percent of riders wore one.
So why such an uptick in numbers? Well, it's a data scientist's worst nightmare -- compounding variables -- meaning there are a variety of reasons and it's not exactly clear. Some are saying cannabis is to blame, others blame congested infrastructure, some blame the people who are more engrossed in what's going on in the world of social media instead of what's on the road in front of them. All we know is that you should always wear a seatbelt, or in the case of a motorcycle, a helmet, drive sober, be well-rested, don't tailgate, don't speed (excessively, we know you're going to anyway), and limit distractions.
"Fatal crashes continue to be a tragic ending for hundreds of people in Colorado each year," said Scott Hernandez, Colorado State Patrol Chief. "Every life matters. They matter to me, my troopers and the families suffering from these preventable tragedies. We encourage drivers to make good decisions, avoid distractions, and drive sober. Kick off the new year by buckling up, dropping the distractions and focusing on driving."
What are your thoughts people? Have you noticed more accidents out there? Let us know in the comments below!