CDOT: Traffic deaths spiked in 2015

Posted at 6:57 PM, Jan 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-19 22:12:19-05

2015 was a deadly year on Colorado roads. A total of 545 people were killed in the calendar year, up 10 percent from 2014, all according to data from CDOT.

Why the big jump?

CDOT leaders cited population increases and low gas prices contributing to more drivers on the roads. As for the leading causes, alcohol use and not using a seatbelt topped the list.

According to the data:

  • 32% of all traffic fatalities involved alcohol
  • 49% of all passenger vehicle related fatalities involved someone not wearing a seat belt

"We know that at least 60 lives could be saved if everyone wore their seat belts," CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt said. "Therefore, we will be doing additional outreach to increase the seat belt usage in Colorado."

Law enforcement in Aurora say it comes down to the driver's decision making.

"One life lost to a bad decision is too many. And when it is things that people could make a better decision, use that seat belt, take that extra second just to click that on, that's the difference sometimes between living and dying," Officer Al Graham of the APD said.

Motorcycle deaths hit a record high at 104 in 2015, as well.

The highest counties for fatalities were Jefferson (56), Weld (55), Denver (49), and El Paso (44).

CDOT has spent more than $3 billion to non-profits and law enforcement for programs to keep roads safe, but leaders say they plan to do even more in 2016, including putting the number of traffic fatalities on overhead light-up boards to keep drivers aware.