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Offered by Brighton Attorney Gregory R. McMahon

Bad news for Colorado: The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has released its figures for 2016 traffic deaths, revealing an unfortunate trend. Traffic deaths increased in 2016 to 606 as compared to 547 in 2015 and 488 fatal car accidents in 2014. This is an alarming trend as traffi c accident deaths have now increased about 24% since 2014. There are several possible reasons for this frightening increase in traffic deaths.

Texting while driving continues to be a problem as drivers look down and text instead of watching the road. In the past, CDOT has launched safety awareness campaigns to stop texting and driving. The campaign says, “IT CAN WAIT.” What text message could be so important that it is worth risking an accident with possible serious injury or death?

Not wearing seat belts can make a bad accident even worse. CDOT reports that about 50% of 2016 traffic deaths were drivers or passengers who were not wearing a seat belt. As a result, this month CDOT will begin a safety belt awareness campaign to strongly encourage increased use of seatbelts. Current estimates are that about 84% of drivers and passengers use seat belts.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is another likely reason for the increase in traffic deaths. As a reminder, even prescription drugs can cause driver impairment. You should discuss this with your doctor and pharmacist if you take prescription drugs. Finally, as we all know, St. Patrick’s Day is coming. This has traditionally been a dangerous day as there are more drivers on the road who have been drinking. If you are going to go out for St. Patrick’s Day, have a plan to get home safely.

Let’s all work together to reverse the trend of increased traffic deaths.

The information in this column is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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