Nearly 700 people were killed on Colorado roadways in 2021 — the most traffic fatalities the state has seen since 2002, according to a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) report released in January.
That number is expected to increase as CDOT continues to receive additional crash reports.
The 672 fatalities reported represent a 50% increase over traffic deaths recorded in 2011.
“We allocate tremendous resources into maintaining a safe and reliable statewide travel system,” said John Lorme, director of Maintenance & Operations for CDOT. “However, the most important resource is the driver, and that’s where we see safety falter. Drivers making poor decisions — whether it’s speeding, being on their phones, or not buckling up — cause more than 90% of the fatal crashes on our roadways.”
Looking into the numbers more closely, Jefferson County had 50 traffic fatalities in 2021 — tied with Arapahoe County for third highest number in the metro behind Adams and Denver Counties. Drilling down even further shows Lakewood accounting for 18 of those 50 Jeffco deaths.
That’s not an insignificant number in that the city of Denver, with nearly five times the population of Lakewood, saw 61 traffic fatalities in 2021.
To put those numbers into perspective, adjusted for population, and maintaining the current rate of deaths, Lakewood would have had more than 80 traffic fatalities in 2021 — a number nearly 25% higher than Denver experienced.
“For the average Coloradan, the most dangerous thing you will do all day is driving. These trends are tragic and unacceptable,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It’s why Colorado State Patrol will continue its low-tolerance enforcement strategy to educate or remove drivers putting lives at risk. But enforcement efforts alone won’t solve the problem of rising fatalities on our roadways. We need drivers to do their part and set the right example. We need to care enough to change this – we need to care enough to make safe choices behind the wheel.”
CDOT and Colorado State Patrol, among other statewide traffic safety advocates, call on drivers statewide to never drive after consuming alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, avoid speeding, buckle up, never text and drive and always use extra caution around pedestrians and bicyclists.