So far, 2013 has proven to be a bad year for Denver pedestrians.
According to a statistic released by the Denver and Aurora Police Departments, the number of auto-pedestrian accidents in Denver rocketed in the first couple months of this year, jumping from the previous two year average of 31 incidents a month, to an unprecedented 44 a month for January and February each. And not only that, the number of hit and run cases has nearly doubled since 2011.
So why the sudden spike in auto-pedestrian accidents?
Of course there are the usual suspects—drugs and alcohol. But Denver law enforcement also believes the growing problem of distracted driving is putting pedestrians at more risk than ever before.
In a Denver Post article, Lt. Matt Murray, chief of staff to Denver Police Chief Robert White, told reporters, “It’s not just a police problem; it’s a city problem. And the city has to work on a solution.”
And it’s not just inattentive drivers that are being blamed for auto-pedestrian accidents. Walkers, too, are often absorbed in the very same handheld devices that distract drivers. That combination—as the city of Denver is witnessing—can be lethal.
“We have more distracted walkers and drivers checking their text messages and e-mails,” said Lt. Robert Rock, Denver’s head traffic investigator. “People are just not paying attention.”
Yet another hit and run pedestrian incident was added to this year’s already above average count last Wednesday (July 31st) when the driver of a vehicle jumped a curb, striking three people waiting at a bus stop near City Park. The incident report said one of the victims suffered a serious leg injury. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. The identity of the driver is still unknown.
Although this recent spike has traffic safety officials scrambling for a preventative strategy, the danger of car vs. pedestrian encounters has been an ongoing problem for the city of Denver and Colorado in general. For the past decade, an estimated 1,600 walkers and cyclists have been struck by vehicles each year in city limits, and Denver ranks 29th on the list of most dangerous large metro areas for pedestrians in the country, based on a survey by Transportation for America.
Obviously, a change is in order to protect pedestrians from distracted driving.
Jennifer Albo knows all-too-well the dangers of distracted driving. Her brother Timothy was struck by a vehicle near Coors Field, and the driver fled the scene. Two years later, Timothy continues to suffer from brain injury.
“It’s unfathomable what people do behind the wheel every day—they eat, they text, they talk on the phone, they hand sodas to the back seat,” says Jennifer. “Every time they’re not paying attention they’re taking the opportunity to ruin someone’s life.”
Rather than adding to our city’s growing distracted driving problem, become apart of Denver’s solution to auto-pedestrian safety by being attentive behind the wheel. And if you or a loved one have been struck by a vehicle while walking, contact a Colorado pedestrian accident attorney immediately.