Top 6 Most Common Causes of Colorado Car Crashes
Prevent a tragic car accident by avoiding the behaviors that cause them
Our Denver car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling injury cases. It doesn’t matter if you have a minor scrape or a major collision, we are here for you.
More than 670 people lost their lives on Colorado’s roadways in 2021—the most deaths in almost 20 years. Some state officials are blaming these deaths, at least in part, on what they call “an epidemic of distracted driving.”
In addition to the hundreds who lose their lives each year, thousands more are seriously injured—nearly 93,000 in 2021 alone. What’s worse, the Colorado Department of Transportation reports that this number is again on the rise.
Here are a few more chilling statistics every driver should consider:
- A car crash happens every 5 seconds in the U.S.
- A person is injured in a traffic accident every 10 seconds in the U.S.
- A person is killed in a traffic accident every 12 minutes in the U.S.
- For those between the ages of 5 and 34, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Experts agree that most traffic crashes in Colorado happen because of human error. When negligence plays a role in a car accident, the injured party may choose to sue the at-fault driver for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes cost the U.S. a whopping $340 billion in 2019 alone.
With Colorado car accident cases increasing throughout the state, it’s important to hire an experienced attorney who knows the law and can help you recover maximum compensation for your injuries.
Common causes of Colorado car crashes
Because most car accidents are the result of preventable human error, it’s vital to be aware of the behaviors that increase your likelihood of getting into a crash.
Below are the 8 most common causes of car accidents in Colorado.
1. Distracted driving
According to data from the NHTSA, 15 percent of all motor vehicle crashes and 9 percent of fatal crashes in 2019 were caused by distracted drivers. This comes as no surprise since the NHTSA has long reported that failing to properly observe road signs and traffic plays a role in approximately 40 percent of crashes.
With new distractions for drivers like smartphones and GPS systems, in addition to traditional distractions like talking to a passenger in the car or fiddling with the radio, failure to pay full attention to the road is a growing problem.
Figures provided by the NHTSA reveal that approximately 52 percent of all collisions in the U.S. occur within a 5-mile radius of that person’s home, while an astounding 69 percent occur within 10 miles. Although the vast majority of accidents occur close to home, most of them tend to be relatively minor. In fact, data shows that the farther from home the accident occurs, the more severe it tends to be.
Why do so many car crashes happen close to home?
In general, when driving near their own homes, drivers often have a false sense of safety. Their familiarity with their surroundings leads many drivers to multitask as they leave their driveways and venture out into their neighborhoods, paying little attention to the road in front of them.
When on busy highways, drivers are more likely to maintain their focus on the primary task at hand and save the cell phone call, texting or radio scanning for later. This is why safety experts, as well as most car accident attorneys (including us), are pretty vocal about distracted driving.
Simply being aware of these risks can dramatically reduce your chance of you being in a car accident, regardless of whether you’re just cruising through your neighborhood or traveling in another state.
Engineers design roads for travel at a certain speed. Your safety and the safety of other drivers depend on people observing speed limits. When a driver chooses to speed, they’re not able to negotiate the road in a safe way and are more likely to lose control of their vehicle.
Other drivers may also not be able to react to a speeding driver as easily as they would if that driver wasn’t speeding.
Driving fast makes accidents more likely to happen and makes the crashes that result more serious than they might have been otherwise. Sadly, in 2019 alone, speeding was responsible for 11,258 preventable fatalities on U.S. roads.
3. Drunk driving
Each day, about 30 people die in alcohol-related crashes in the U.S. Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system. The higher a person’s alcohol levels, the less they’re able to react to changing events in a sufficiently safe way. As a person’s alcohol levels rise, their ability to react and respond quickly decreases.
The legal limit isn’t a made-up number. It’s the result of comprehensive federal studies on the effects of alcohol and how it contributes to accidents. In Colorado, the driving while ability impaired (DWAI) law starts at 0.05 percent blood alcohol content (BAC), whereas most states start at a 0.08 percent BAC. However, alcohol can still contribute to a crash even when a driver has a lower blood alcohol content.
The lesson is you should never drink and drive under any circumstances.
4. Drugged driving
Drugged driving involves driving while under the influence of marijuana, prescription drugs or illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin. As with alcohol, a person who uses drugs often can’t self-identify their own level of impairment. They might not know that they’re unable to safely drive a vehicle.
If you’re taking prescription medications, it’s up to you to know the potential effects of that medicine before you drive.
Colorado law prohibits driving with more than 5 nanograms of active THC in your blood. It’s also illegal to drive under the influence of any illegal drug, regardless of how much of it you have in your body. Drugged driving cases pose a challenge for law enforcement because there isn’t a breath test to test for drugs like there is for alcohol.
5. Reckless driving
When a person drives in a way that shows a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property, they’re considered a reckless driver. Reckless driving is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor crime in Colorado. Reckless driving occurs when a driver operates in a way that disregards the safety of others.
For example, driving at an extremely high speed, drag racing, weaving in and out of traffic, and aggressively cutting off other drivers can all amount to reckless driving.
6. Inexperienced drivers
Safe driving is a skill that takes practice. Teen drivers are responsible for a disproportionately large number of traffic crashes—not only in Colorado but nationwide. They’re more likely to make basic errors that can result in a crash. Teen drivers are also more likely to drink and drive, text and drive, speed, and fail to wear their seat belts.
7. Fatigue or drowsy driving
According to the NHTSA, approximately 91,000 car crashes in 2019 involved drowsy drivers, leading to about 50,000 injuries and almost 800 deaths. In many ways, driving while fatigued can be as dangerous as driving under the influence. In fact, the NHTSA reports that drivers who only got an average of 4 to 5 hours of sleep each night were 5.4 times more likely to get in a car crash than drivers who got at least seven hours of sleep.
8. Adverse weather conditions
As you know from driving around Denver and the mountains in the winter, more traffic accidents occur during snow or rainy conditions. Bad weather, like heavy rain and snow, not only reduces visibility, it also increases the chance you could lose control of your vehicle.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 13,00 people die and almost 117,000 are injured on U.S. roads each year because of snow- and ice-covered roadways. This is despite the U.S. spending more than 2.3 billion dollars on snow and ice removal and prevention efforts annually.
To prevent these accidents, the NHTSA recommends that drivers plan ahead by doing the following:
- Get regular maintenance to ensure your tires and battery are winter-ready.
- Slow down when roads are wet, snowy or icy.
- Leave a few minutes early so you don’t feel rushed during your drive.
- Keep items like flashlights, blankets, water bottles, jumper cables and flares in your car in case of an emergency.
What to do when a Colorado car crash occurs
After a crash, an experienced Colorado accident attorney can help you investigate the accident to determine the cause. When a car accident occurs because someone else acted negligently, drove recklessly or was intoxicated, you may be able to recover damages from the responsible party.
At The Babcock Law Firm in Denver, we’re committed to helping injured Coloradans get the compensation they need after an accident while they recover from their injuries. Let us handle the negotiations with the insurance company so you can focus on getting better.