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The importance of increasing road safety in the Vail Valley

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June 21, 2020, 7:39 am

In 2017, traffic fatalities in Colorado reached their highest in more than a decade, and while the numbers continue to fluctuate, it’s important that road safety be properly addressed to reduce and eliminate fatality statistics. From poor driver decisions such as speeding and driving under the influence to weather-related accidents, here’s how such issues are being addressed in order to meet a goal of keeping everyone safe on the roads.

Road accidents and their causes

Across the state of Colorado, car accidents are an all too frequent occurrence that can be caused by a number of factors. In addition to a rising population, poor driving decisions — such as driving under the influence, speeding, or even failing to buckle a seat belt – are all common causes of road accidents and fatalities. In Vail Valley, the weather is also a concern, as snow and ice can cause dangerous driving conditions – such as black ice or slippery roads.

One such example of a near fatal incident involves Casey Lonesk, a Kansas man who was reported driving at speeds of 100mph on I-70 on Vail Pass July 20th, 2019. Before Lonesk himself crashed, he clipped one car from behind, and caused another to roll over an embankment and into a ditch near Eagle River, where it then caught fire. Lonesk was found with a blood alcohol content of almost three times the legal limit, and was sentenced to eight years in prison for his crimes. While there were thankfully no fatalities, victims of the crash had multiple injuries that left them healing for months afterward — an all too common occurrence for those involved in car accidents.

The aftermath

It’s important to realize that traffic accidents and fatalities are more than just a number, as they often bring a lot in terms of stressful aftermath to those who are involved, including both physical and emotional trauma. For instance, car accidents that cause physical injury, such as broken bones, whiplash, or even a lasting physical disability, often bring a long healing journey that can follow those involved for an extended period of time. For example, while someone might have gotten a back injury in a car accident, they may still have back pain months later. Many who are involved in traffic accidents and experience a physical injury as a result may choose to take legal action, which can garner the compensation and justice that is deserved in order to move on.

Improving road safety across Colorado

While traffic crash fatalities have seen high numbers over the past several years, the number of fatalities across the state actually dropped in 2018 after six years of rising, proving that things could be on their way to improving — though a lot of work still needs to be done in terms of making the roads a safer place. Thankfully, the majority of accidents in the state are actually preventable, as Sam Cole, a traffic safety communications manager with CDOT mentions that “…over 90 percent of crashes are related to somebody’s behavior, and not a rock fall or the design of the roadway.” Some safety measures taken include campaigns like ‘Click it or Ticket,’ which helps to raise awareness of the importance of issues buckling up while driving.  

While a number of precautions to improve road safety across the state and in areas like Vail Valley can be taken, it’s necessary for those who choose to drive take responsibility on an individual level. For example, taking simple precautions like calling a friend to be a designated driver before choosing to drink, putting away your cell phone to avoid distracted driving, and following the local laws while also remaining alert can greatly help to reduce accidents and fatalities.

High numbers of traffic accidents and fatalities prove that road safety must be improved in Colorado and Vail Valley. Through safety measures such as statewide campaigns and drivers making responsible decisions, the roads could be well on their way to becoming a safer place.

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