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Colorado's traffic accident statistics for 2015 do not look good

Motor vehicles of all types are safer today than ever before - at least in terms of design. For this and other reasons, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that traffic fatalities across Colorado increased by 10 percent last year. According to preliminary 2015 data from the Colorado Department of Transportation, there were 545 traffic accident fatalities on state roads last year.

This number is frustratingly high. But what is even more disheartening is the fact that many of these accidents could have been prevented, because they were caused or exacerbated by bad choices: Texting, drunk driving, drugged driving and failing to wear a seatbelt or helmet.

By some estimates, 32 percent of accident fatalities last year involved alcohol. Although drunk-driving deaths have sharply declined since the 1970s, accident and fatality rates remain stubbornly high.

While specific numbers are less clear for distracted driving accidents, texting and cellphone use account for a significant percentage of annual traffic deaths nationwide.

The accident scenarios described above involve drivers who endanger others through their own bad choices. But what about safety choices that only affect the individual who made them? Examples include wearing a motorcycle helmet and buckling up.

Unfortunately, too many drivers and riders are failing to take basic safety precautions that could save their lives. In 2015, nearly half of those who died in traffic fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt. Motorcycle deaths reached an all-time high in Colorado last year (104), and it is safe to assume that at least some of these deaths could have been prevented if the riders had chosen to wear a helmet.

Whether your driving behaviors put others at risk or only affect your own safety, please understand that even one traffic fatality is too many. Colorado motorists can reverse this disturbing trend, but each of us must do our part.

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