Many people in Colorado don't use a motor vehicle as their primary means of transportation. Although walking is a leisure activity for some, for others it is the best option for getting around. Even when it's a necessity, there are many benefits to walking, such as enjoying being outside and getting exercise. Unfortunately, it can also pose a great risk, especially when pedestrians are close to traffic. One recent serious accident shows just how significant that risk is, when a woman lost her life after being struck by a car.
The first week of daylight saving time is always a time for Colorado residents to be more careful on the road. The reason is that the loss of one hour of sleep makes everyone drowsy, raising the risk for crashes. In fact, a study published in Current Biology has found that there are 6% more fatal car crashes in the U.S. during the first week of DST. An estimated 28 more fatal crashes occur in this week each year, and many more that do not end in death likely occur as well.
Large trucks are common on the Colorado roads. An accident between passenger vehicles and 18-wheelers can cause catastrophic injuries and death. Relying on government oversight to ensure that truck companies adhere to the rules for safety might seem wise. However, some rule changes sow concern. Such is the case with the bill that would allow drivers under the age of 21 to drive commercial vehicles across state lines.
Truck driver fatigue contributed to 13% of crashes analyzed in the Large Truck Crash Causation Study of 2007. However, there are many steps that drivers in Colorado and elsewhere can take to make sure that they are awake enough to operate their vehicles. For example, it is not a good idea to drive between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. because the human body tends to be naturally tired during these hours.
There was a 6.8% increase in traffic accidents throughout the country between 2018 and 2019, many of which occurred in Illinois. According to a survey from Go Safe Labs, there were 22,188 crashes in Houston, which was the most in the country during 2019. Other cities where accidents were most likely to occur were Charlotte, Austin and Los Angeles. However, it is important to note that the accident rates in many of these cities actually declined during that year.
As much as 35% of truckers in Colorado and the rest of the U.S. suffer from a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Apnea means "without breath," and sleep apnea results in the individual having his or her upper airway blocked during sleep for 5 to 10 seconds at a time. In obstructive sleep apnea, the most common among truckers, the mouth palate and throat muscles relax and collapse to block the airway.
In Colorado and across the country, fewer municipalities are implementing red light camera systems. The camera systems are mounted at traffic lights to catch drivers who run red lights. They may be later stopped by police or receive a traffic ticket in the mail with a citation for running through the red light. While the cameras have the potential to cut down on traffic accidents caused by dangerous drivers speeding through red lights, many drivers view them as a greedy, revenue-enhancing option rather than a safety measure. The cameras have also been criticized for failing to make a significant enough impact on roadway safety.
Many Colorado drivers are excited about the potential for increased safety presented by many newer vehicle technologies. Systems like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist have developed out of the research into autonomous driving. They make it possible for cars to sense distance from those ahead and stay in their lanes. These technologies have significant potential to make the roadways safer, making accidents less likely. However, some road safety advocates warn that such promising technologies may actually increase the risk of dangerous collisions when they're used improperly.
Colorado drivers know that truck accidents are more dangerous than typical crashes involving passenger vehicles. This is due to the size and weight of these large trucks. Unfortunately, accidents involving large trucks and passenger vehicles often lead to catastrophic injuries and even death.
The number of fatalities among drivers and passengers in car accidents in Colorado and across the country declined in 2018. While this seems like good news, it came alongside other disturbing statistics that show that pedestrian and cyclist deaths are continuing to rise. The data are prompting some advocates and agencies to consider more stringent safety standards to protect walkers and bikers on the road. During 2018, over 36,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the country. This number represents a small decline from 2017, but it also still indicates a serious problem with roadway safety.