What are the top causes of serious car crashes in Colorado?

Coloradans can benefit from understanding the leading causes of serious car accidents in their state, which include speeding, distraction and intoxication.

In 2015, traffic fatalities in Colorado increased for the first time in a decade, according to a recent Department of Transportation report. KKTV News states that deadly accidents jumped 10 percent, and altogether, 545 lives were lost. Tragically, many of these catastrophic accidents involved preventable mistakes or decisions on the part of motorists. This makes it essential for drivers in Denver and other nearby areas to be aware of these common accident causes.

Impaired driving

A significant 32 percent of the fatal crashes reported in 2015 involved alcohol use, according to the CDOT. With the use of illicit and prescription drugs factored in, the total proportion of impaired driving crashes may have been even higher. The CDOT has allocated funds to several programs this year in an attempt to curb accidents involving driver intoxication, but the effectiveness of this measure remains to be seen.

Sadly, the available data suggests that drunk driving has remained a consistent problem in Colorado over the past few years. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014, 33 percent of traffic deaths in Colorado happened in alcohol-related car crashes, compared to 32 percent in 2015. This suggests that too many people are still choosing to drive while impaired, despite changes to state DUI laws and efforts on the part of law enforcement authorities.

Speeding

The CDOT has also identified speeding as one of the most common contributing factors in the deadly accidents that occurred last year. The overall proportion of speed-related accidents hasn't been disclosed yet, but NHTSA data from 2014 sheds light on how prevalent this problem is. That year, excessive speed was a factor in about 34 percent of all fatal crashes that occurred in Colorado.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains that speed makes catastrophic crashes more likely for several reasons. Traveling at higher speeds lessens a driver's control over the vehicle and the amount of time that he or she has to react to hazards. Furthermore, higher speeds increase stopping distance and crash energy, which can produce more catastrophic outcomes. Alarmingly, the same source states that the majority of drivers speed when traveling on expressways and freeways, where accidents are already more likely to be severe.

Driver inattention

Distracted driving habits such as texting while driving have become a more prevalent cause of accidents across the U.S. over the last several years. According to Newsweek, experts have pointed to these habits as one potential reason for the national jump in traffic injuries and fatalities that occurred during early 2015. Unfortunately, the dangerous effects of distracted driving have also been evident here in Colorado.

State officials have pointed to distracted driving as another top cause of deadly crashes in 2015. The CDOT hasn't yet reported how many inattention-related crashes occurred that year, but if prior years are an indicator, the number was likely high. According to CDOT estimates, about one-quarter of the 203,827 drivers who were involved in crashes in Colorado in 2013 were distracted and also found at fault.

Holding reckless drivers responsible

Drivers in Colorado may be able to reduce their risk of accidents by eliminating these three risky behaviors. Unfortunately, though, there may be little that drivers can do to avoid crashes in which others are at fault. People who have been injured because other drivers were intoxicated, distracted, speeding or otherwise acting negligently should remember that legal recourse might be available. An attorney may be able to offer further insights into an accident victim's legal rights and potential remedies.