745 lives lost on Colorado roads in 2022




Most roadway deaths since 1981


STATEWIDE — In 2022, Colorado lost 745 lives to traffic fatalities, the most roadway deaths in the state since 1981, according to preliminary data. This is a 57% increase from just 10 years ago and includes a record number of pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Today, CDOT, Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Department of Revenue convened to discuss the current state of roadway safety in Colorado and urge Coloradans to reduce risky driving behaviors such as speeding, aggressive driving, driving under the influence and distracted driving.

“I wish we could correlate the increase in fatalities to Colorado’s population growth. But that’s not the case,” said Keith Stefanik, Chief Engineer for CDOT. “After falling for 30 years, the rate of crashes has steadily risen during the last decade. Furthermore, for every fatality, there are five serious injuries caused by crashes on Colorado roads. These injuries can leave a devastating lifelong toll on individuals and their families.”

Key to the plan’s success is the collaborative effort that will take place, including partnerships with state agencies, local law enforcement, community groups and municipalities to address the issue. The ATSP is a product of the Strategic Transportation Safety Plan, which includes emphasis areas, performance targets and key strategies.

Of the people killed in 2022, 36% were outside the vehicle. They were pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists, who are at greater risk of severe injury or death when struck by motorists. The number of motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities is the most on record since 1975.

In the coming year Colorado State Patrol will do everything possible to maximize their presence on Colorado roadways.

“What we’re seeing across Colorado are the consequences when too many drivers ignore the rules of the road, and it’s unacceptable,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Troopers along with our local law enforcement partners will continue to remove drivers putting lives and communities at risk. However, law enforcement alone can’t solve the problem of rising fatalities on our roadways. Every driver makes a series of choices when they get behind the wheel that protects life or loses sight of our humanity. Drive sober, wear seat belts, obey speed limits and be mindful of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists — treat your fellow road users with common courtesy and collectively we will improve safety across our communities.”

Impaired driving deaths increased to 278 last year, up 6% from 2021. But since 2019, those deaths involving an impaired driver have risen by almost 60%. Although alcohol was the most common cause of impairment, drivers who tested above the legal limit for active THC increased from 50 drivers in 2020 to 79 in 2021. Combinations of drugs are also a problem — 25% of the impaired drivers in fatal crashes had more than one substance in their blood, with alcohol and cannabis the most common co-occurring substances. The counties with the highest number of fatalities involving an impaired driver were Adams (35), El Paso (21) and Denver (21) counties.

Seat belt use in Colorado remains stagnant at 87% and still lags behind the national average of 90%. The majority of passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes were unbuckled.

“Driver education and compliance with laws and regulations are key to maintaining safe roadways. Keeping our roads safe is a shared responsibility,” said Electra Bustle, Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles Senior Director. “That education doesn’t end when you get your license. Driving poses a risk to others — it requires a lifelong commitment to do so safely.”

Rural areas of the state typically have a disproportionately higher rate of crash fatalities. CDOT is committing a significant investment in fixing Colorado’s rural roads, with 34 projects completed or under construction across 55 counties. Rural areas are also challenged by the lack of close-by trauma centers. Therefore, incident management is critical.

The counties with the most road fatalities in 2022:

El Paso = 83
Adams = 82
Denver = 67
Arapahoe = 56
Weld = 53
Jefferson = 46
Pueblo = 40

In 2023, CDOT will award more than $10 million in funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to local partners engaged in awareness efforts and law enforcement campaigns in their communities. These efforts will address dangerous driving behaviors causing such havoc on Colorado roads.

Filed Under: CountyEnvironmentFeaturedHealthLaw EnforcementMedia ReleasePolice ReportPublic SafetyTourismTransportation


About the Author: