Despite fewer drivers on the road last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, car accident fatalities increased nationwide and in Colorado, according to the latest statistics compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“We were really surprised that traffic fatalities didn’t come down,” Sam Cole, Colorado Department of Transportation’s traffic safety communications manager, said in a recent interview with Summit Daily.
A total of 611 people died in motor vehicle accidents in Colorado in 2020, an increase of 2 percent compared to 2019, when 597 people died statewide, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Nationwide, 38,680 people died in motor vehicle accidents last year, a 7.2 percent increase compared to 2019, when 36,096 people died in traffic accidents.
Such figures are even more startling given that Americans drove 13.2 percent less (430.2 billion fewer miles) in 2020 compared to 2019, according to the NHTSA. “We intend to use all available tools to reverse these trends and reduce traffic fatalities and injuries,” said Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s Acting Administrator.
What were common causes of accidents in 2020?
More fatal motor vehicle accidents happened last year for several reasons. The NHTSA cited several reasons why traffic fatalities increased nationwide in 2020, including:
- 20 percent increase in fatalities involving people ejected from motor vehicles
- 15 percent increase involving fatalities of people not wearing seatbelts (unrestrained occupants) in passenger vehicles
- 15 percent increase in fatal motor vehicle accidents on urban interstates
- 11 percent increase in speed-related fatal accidents
- 11 percent increase in nighttime fatal car accidents
- 9 percent increase in fatal rollover accidents
- 9 percent increase in drunk driving-related fatalities
These are just some of the reasons why there were more traffic fatalities nationwide last year. Similar but slightly different reasons why varied from state to state.
Why were accidents higher in Colorado?
Like the rest of the country, traffic volume decreased by 11 percent last year statewide and by as much as 50 percent in certain parts of Colorado, Cole said. So why were there so many traffic fatalities in Colorado? Cole said speeding and drunk driving had a lot to do with the increase in the number of traffic fatalities statewide in 2020.
“When we thought more about it, it’s most likely because less traffic means more open roads, which is an invitation to speeding and other unsafe driving behaviors,” Cole said.
“When you look at the statewide numbers, older driver deaths decreased. They’re off the road. They’re at home. They’re doing like they should. Young driver deaths increased, which kind of fits the story we’ve heard about COVID that young teenagers aren’t as concerned about COVID because they’re not as vulnerable, and that tells the same story with the traffic fatality data.”
As for drunk driving fatalities statewide, there were 208 deaths in Colorado in 2020, an increase of 32 deaths or 18 percent compared to 2019, when there were 176 drunk driving fatalities. 2020 was only the second year since 2008 that alcohol-related fatalities in Colorado were higher than 200 deaths in a single year. The other year was 2018, when there were 219 alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities in Colorado, according to the NHTSA.
How can a lawyer help?
You might think you don’t need an attorney if another driver clearly caused an accident involving you or a loved one in Colorado. The Colorado State Police or local police will likely investigate your accident. So will insurance companies for everyone involved.
But the reality is the state trooper or local police officer investigating your crash only cares about determining the cause of your collision. As for insurance companies, the one representing the at-fault driver will often do everything they can to find evidence they can use to reduce or deny your accident claim. That’s because you could be entitled to receive thousands of dollars or significantly more for medical bills, vehicle repairs, replacement income if you cannot work and other accident-related expenses.
We know what’s at stake at The Longo Firm, LLC in Colorado Springs. That’s because attorney Stephen A. Longo and his talented legal team have years of experience handling such complex legal cases. As a result, we know how to analyze official car accident reports. We know what evidence to look for, whether it’s traffic camera footage, statements from eyewitnesses or other important accident data.
This is why we consistently secure sizable settlements and verdicts for injury victims and their families. Attorney Longo is a member of the Multi-Million-Dollar Advocate Forum, an elite, invitation-only organization reserved for lawyers who have secured multi-million-dollar settlements or verdicts for injury victims. Case results truly matter here.
When you’re in a car accident, you don’t have to go it alone. You can talk through your legal rights and options in a free consultation with an experienced attorney. Contact our law firm and schedule your appointment today. Our office is conveniently located on Office Club Pointe in Colorado Springs, and we handle legal cases throughout Colorado and Arizona.