Why Colorado Roads Are Just as Deadly as Before the Pandemic

An aerial view of an October crash that took the life of a Commerce City police officer.
An aerial view of an October crash that took the life of a Commerce City police officer. CBS4
New statistics from the Colorado State Patrol reveal that the pace of deadly crashes on state roadways hasn't slowed, despite lower traffic volume almost everywhere because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the CSP has actually processed more statewide fatalities through October of 2020 than the agency did during the same period in 2019.

The CSP confirms that fewer drivers have been out and about during the year to date because of "the statewide stay-at-home order earlier this year and an increase in virtual working." Yet the number of deaths of motorists, passengers and other victims has barely changed through October 31 in the following four categories:
Statewide Fatal Crashes
455 (2020)
458 (2019)

Statewide Fatal Crashes covered by CSP
227 (2020)
228 (2019)

Statewide Fatalities
501 (2020)
505 (2019)

Statewide Fatalities covered by CSP
262 (2020)
255 (2019)
The CSP also provided Westword with the top five factors in 2020 crashes that resulted in deaths or injuries. The leading cause? A lack of attention — the sort of focus loss that can strike when drivers find themselves in traffic that's lighter than usual.

Here's the list:
1. Inattentive to Driving — 479 (16.3 percent)
2. Exceeded Safe/Legal Speed — 463 (15.7 percent)
3. Impaired Driving — 462 (15.7 percent)
4. Lane Violation Crashes 395 (13.4 percent)
5. Failed to Yield Right of Way Crashes — 183 (6.2 percent)
This scenario is clearly frustrating for Colonel Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "Driving is a social function," he says in a statement accompanying these new stats. "Without realizing it, we all rely on one another to follow traffic rules, including posted speed limits, and choose to never drive impaired. It is important that we recognize dangerous driving behaviors in others, as well as ourselves, and make a change when our behaviors put lives at risk."

Because you're no safer on Colorado roads now than you were before the pandemic.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts