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Why are state traffic deaths on the rise? CDOT says poor driver decisions are to blame

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Jim Hill
/
KUNC
Traffic deaths are now 50% higher than they were 10 years ago, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. CDOT said risky driver behaviors that increased at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have continued.

2021 was among the deadliest years on record for Colorado drivers. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, 672 people were killed on state roadways last year, the most since 2002.

Jered Fiel with CDOT said a majority of traffic deaths were caused by poor decisions, like not buckling up, driving impaired and not paying attention.

"When you get behind the wheel, that's your job, just to get safely to where you are going without hurting anybody else," said Fiel.

Speeding was also a contributing factor.

Fiel says people need to get away from multitasking on the road — a habit he thinks we've picked up from the pandemic.

"During COVID I think we all got used to being able to do 16 things all at once, and then when we get behind the wheel, all of a sudden, just doing one thing, it doesn't occupy the brain enough," he said.

Fiel reminds drivers to take their responsibility on the road seriously.

Both rural and urban areas are seeing upward fatality trends. El Paso County had the highest number of traffic deaths in the state.

Impaired drivers accounted for 246 deaths — a 16% increase from 2020.