The Colorado State Patrol responded to more than 27,000 auto accidents in 2008. Auto accidents in El Paso County, including all of Colorado Springs, accounted for the second highest number of accidents in the state – behind only Jefferson County and Denver. Predictably, the statistics show traffic rush hours are the time when the most auto accidents occur.
Obviously, cities with high-volume traffic make for riskier driving. Among the top five causes for wrecks listed in the 2008 Traffic Safety Crash Statistics were “exceeded safe speed,” “inattentive to driving” and “following too closely.”
Knowing the rules of the road makes driving exponentially safer for everyone. But being an observant driver and exercising common sense also goes a long way toward avoiding hazards.
For example, maintaining a safe speed requires more than just being aware of posted speed limits:
- Slow down where there are pedestrians.
- Slow down in busy business districts where cars may be turning onto or pulling out of side streets or parking areas.
- Slow down during inclement weather.
In addition, when you drive, make driving the #1 priority. Don’t fall victim to common distractions!
It is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use a cell phone for any kind of communication while driving and, as of December last year, texting while driving is illegal in Colorado for drivers of all ages. Fines for violating this law start at $50.
But remember, Colorado State Patrol cited 779 injury accidents and 33 fatal accidents in 2008 were caused by inattentive driving on Colorado roads. Texting or talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup, adjusting the radio and fishing around in the glove box or back seat while you’re driving are not worth the risk.
Lane violations and the car wrecks they cause can be prevented by keeping your car in the correct lane and gaining knowledge about rights-of-way. When turning left into a driveway or across an intersection, yield to oncoming traffic as well as pedestrians – in fact, always stop for pedestrians, no matter where they show up or how illegally they may be crossing a street! For one thing, that’s the law! and, secondly, you’re not likely to cope well with seriously injuring or killing someone just because he/she was jaywalking and shouldn’t have been in the street!
Always be aware of posted stop, yield, and merge signs. Allow moving emergency vehicles plenty of room by clearing the farthest left-hand lane and stopping until the emergency vehicle has passed.
When driving on mountain highways, keep your vehicle as far to the right as possible.
The Colorado Model Traffic Code for 2009 has more small but mighty instructions about overtaking traffic, passing, turning and rights-of-way.
Finally, the fifth most common cause of auto accidents in Colorado is “following too closely.” The rules concerning tailgating are a little more ambiguous than just following signs and staying inside lines. According to the Colorado Model Traffic Code, space between vehicles must be enough to allow another vehicle to enter and occupy safely.
Although it’s not specifically written into the law, good drivers know a safe rule of thumb is to remain 3 to 6 seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you. No one can predict a road hazard, but almost everyone can prevent a rear-end collision from happening because of one. Visit Smart Motorist to learn how to calculate driving at a safe distance behind other cars.
Fortunately, the Colorado State Patrol has cited a decline in the number of traffic accidents during the last few years. Keep the trend going by reading more from the Colorado State Patrol and keep brushing up on those rules of the road.