Fatalities on La Plata County’s roads increased the last three years, according to statistics released by the Colorado Department of Transportation. Fatalities across the state are also up.
In 2015, seven traffic fatalities were recorded in La Plata County; in 2016, 10 people were killed, and in 2017, 11 people died.
Fatalities stemming from crashes in La Plata County in which impaired drivers were involved increased from two in 2015 to three in 2016 and four in 2017.
Across Colorado, CDOT data show a 15 percent increase in traffic fatalities in the state from 547 in 2015 to 630 in 2017.
“We can’t lay the blame for the uptick on Colorado’s population growth,” said Michael Lewis, CDOT executive director. “This comes down to poor choices many people make when driving, from not buckling up to driving impaired or using their phones.”
Despite Colorado’s seat belt law, Lewis says 16 percent of Coloradans do not buckle up, and Colorado ranks 36th in the country in seat belt use. There were 211 unbelted deaths in passenger vehicle crashes last year. Those unbuckled deaths accounted for half of the 399 passenger vehicle fatalities in 2017.
With 3.8 million licensed drivers in Colorado, one in every 33 Colorado drivers will be in a crash this year, according to CDOT. Odds of surviving a crash improve immensely if drivers buckle up, watch their speed, avoid mixing driving with drugs or alcohol, and stay off their phones, said Sam Cole, a CDOT communication manager, in a news release.
“Fatal crashes continue to be a tragic ending for hundreds of people in Colorado each year,” said Col. Matt Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We encourage drivers to make good decisions, always drive sober and avoid distractions. Help us save lives this year by buckling up, dropping the distractions and focusing on driving.”