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Colorado sees an alarming increase in cycling deaths after staying flat for three consecutive years

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  • Digital Team 

Colorado has experienced a troubling trend of roadway deaths ever since 1981. According to statistics, 2022 was the year with the most fatalities recorded – an alarming number of 745. The safety measures implemented to combat the increased traffic deaths successfully led to a slight decline – the first since 2019- and although this is good news, the picture doesn’t seem to get brighter when it comes to traffic safety in Colorado. Data shows that last year, the number of pedestrians killed on the streets reached an all-time high, making at least 131 victims. Moreover, the number of cycling deaths increased by 33% over a year (from 15 in 2022 to 20 in 2023). 

It’s distressing that so many people are dying while moving from point A to point A, whether they are on their way to school, grocery store, work, and so on. 

When it comes to cyclist deaths, it’s worth noting that the number of deaths didn’t see any increase for three years, only to experience a sudden jump in 2023. Among the cyclists that died on the Colorado streets in 2023 were Liam Stewart, a 13-year-old boy on his way to school, and 17-year-old Magnus White, killed by a driver who fell asleep. While the data shows that cycling deaths are more common in urban areas, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that deaths don’t discriminate, and anyone can become a victim, whether young or old, a commuter or recreational rider, and rural or urban. This is a public health crisis that requires immediate solutions – otherwise, Colorado is likely to continue to set records in the deaths that happen on the streets, with more and more innocent people losing their lives due to people not paying attention to the law. 

Colorado’s increasing population linked to the rising traffic deaths 

The population of Colorado has only been growing in the past two decades (according to data, there’s been a rise from 4.5 million to 5.8 million!), and throughout this period, the number of cyclists killed on the streets has also increased five times. 

This shows there could be a direct correlation between the population of the state and cycling deaths. Although the environment is the same, there are more cars and more people riding their bikes than there were before, increasing the risk of accidents happening on the road. Colorado has a lot to offer to cycling enthusiasts due to its many trails that can be explored, but unfortunately, when it comes to city streets, cycling is rather a dangerous activity instead of a fun one due to the increasing number of fatalities. In fact, Colorado is listed as one of the deadliest states for cyclists – a rank that poses significant concerns. 

Distracted driving, a main factor behind road fatalities 

While it can be difficult to identify the exact causes of the increased deaths happening in Colorado, distracted driving puts people’s lives at risk. In 2019 alone, it led to more than 15,000 crashes, among which 28 were deadly. Unfortunately, distracted driving has long been a factor to blame for the death of innocent people. In 2008, Shelly Fortney lost her 9-year-old daughter right before Thanksgiving, and since then, she has used her voice to raise awareness of distracted driving and the impact it can have on one’s life. As Shelly mentioned, many deaths that are caused by distracted driving are 100% preventable, and yet, since 2008, not too much seems to have changed from this perspective. Smartphones are a distraction that contributes highly to traffic fatalities, and according to a 2022 survey, more than half of Colorado drivers use their mobile phones while driving. It seems like people in the state are trying to push limits on what is acceptable on the road as they hurry to get to a place, but it’s important to remember that this is not safe and can have devastating consequences, leaving grieving families facing significant challenges that they can only cope with by seeking help from legal experts like McDowell Law Firm.

According to experts, bigger cars on the road could also be a reason behind the increased number of killed pedestrians and cyclists. Automobiles are now longer, heavier, and taller, so they are hitting individuals with more force. Not only does it become harder to control the brakes of these heavy vehicles, but they are more likely to kill someone by hitting them in the chest instead of the knee or the leg. 

Regardless of the reasons behind cycling deaths, there’s a massive concern about the loss of life that Colorado is seeing, requiring the implementation of effective solutions that can help address this problem. 

Lawmakers are looking to increase cycling road safety by introducing two bills

From the statistics, it’s evident that Colorado’s streets are far from safe for cyclists. Lawmakers are seeking to address this problem through Senate Bill 65, or the hands-free bill, as it is commonly known, that would ban the use of mobile phones while driving (this doesn’t apply to drivers who utilize a hands-free device). Currently, there is a law that prohibits the use of cell phones while on the road, but it only applies to drivers under 18. 

The other measure that intends to improve the safety of people riding their bikes on Colorado roads is Senate Bill 36. This bill would offer transportation funding for pedestrian walkways, bike lanes, and crosswalk lighting, alongside other improvements, by requiring a small fee from drivers during registration in the twelve most populous counties of the state.  

What’s happening in Colorado right now is only raising alarm bells that things are still going wrong in the state, even if the traffic deaths have been setting records for so long. It’s important to remember that safer roads are everyone’s responsibility, and drivers need to stop viewing cyclists and pedestrians as an afterthought. There are far too many drivers who don’t consider the increasing number of people using the streets every single day, and there must be a wholesale shift in how they think about safety – that, along with the implementation of bills, would be the only things to create the conditions for safer roads where people don’t lose their lives so easily. 

What do you think about Colorado’s records in cycling deaths?

Despite the decline in traffic deaths in Colorado, the picture is still grim when it comes to road safety, as people are still dying – and many of the victims are cyclists and pedestrians. The statistics are undoubtedly concerning, even more so when you think of the fact that this has been an ongoing issue in the state. However, Colorado is taking the required measures to reverse this trend in the hope that drivers will not continue to engage in risky behaviors that can lead to the deaths of innocent people. 

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