This Summer, CDOT has been undertaking new campaigns and research efforts with the desired outcome to curb impairment and encourage safer and more responsible behaviors while on the road.
While Summer brings warmer weather, it also marks Colorado’s peak for impaired drivers on its roadways. The three months from mid-June through mid-September has the highest number of total traffic fatalities over any amount of time; a large portion of these crashes involve an impaired driver. Through the Summer, CDOT with Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement with be undergoing Summer Blitz crack-down periods of increased vigilance and enforcement.
“Nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities involve an impaired driver. We need Coloradans making safe choices when it comes to drinking and driving – for everyone’s well-being on the road,” said Shoshana Lew, executive director of CDOT. Working towards zero deaths means that we must all do our part. Lives depend on it.”
To further address impairment issues, CDOT is promoting their Take Some Time campaign to raise awareness about the amount of time it takes for BAC to return to zero. This, and the Summer Blitz crack-downs are part of the larger Heat is On education and enforcement program. Nearly 60 people are arrested in Colorado each day for impaired driving, and even if your BAC is less than .05 percent, a driver can still be charged with a DUI if they show signs of impairment.
Statewide starting July 12, CDOT with Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement underwent a seatbelt enforcement period. This lasted 7 days, and was one of several that will be taking place this Summer season. Between July 12 and July 19, nearly 1,700 drivers were given tickets for either not wearing seatbelts themselves, or for having a passenger who was not lawfully wearing their seatbelt.
“Unfortunately, there are people who continue to believe they do not need to fasten their seat belt. Some drivers think that because there is less traffic or they are only traveling a short distance that seat belts are not always necessary,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the CSP. “That couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is, 52% of collisions occur within a 5-mile radius from home, and 69% occur within a 10-mile radius of home. We hope every citation issued is a reminder to always buckle up every time you enter a vehicle.”
In 2019, 196 unbuckled drivers or passengers were killed in Colorado crashes. This accounted for more than half of the total traffic deaths. Nearly 88% of Coloradans report that they wear their seatbelts, this is only slightly below the national average of 90%. Fines for not wearing a seatbelt start at $65.
While CDOT has worked to reduce crashes since marijuana’s legalization in 2014, Colorado continues to see a significant degree of crashes. In 2018, around 14% of individuals involved in fatal crashes tested positive for cannabis. CDOT launched the two-year study, Cannabis Conversations in 2017. It is an initiative aimed at engaging Coloradans in thoughtful discussion about marijuana impaired driving, with the intent of better understanding the public’s beliefs and attitudes surrounding the topic.
"We talked online and in-person to thousands of marijuana users across Colorado," said Sam Cole, CDOT traffic safety communications manager. "We learned how different groups of people respond to different types of messages — and will use that knowledge to try to influence people to make smart choices. After all, there is no ‘typical’ marijuana consumer.”
During the study period, CDOT connected with more than 18,000 Coloradans through surveys, public meetings, and focus groups. The goal for CDOT being, to learn how to best cater messaging, outreach, and educational campaigns towards the public.
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