In a recent article and accompanying Facebook post, we asked for users’ opinions about why the car crash fatality rate in Colorado has risen so sharply in 2016. From the hundreds of people who interacted with our previous post, we found that users attributed the following reasons to the rise in car accident-related deaths in the state (figures rounded to the nearest whole percent):

  • 23% Marijuana/smoking pot while driving
  • 22% Distracted driving
  • 13% Too much traffic/too many people on the road
  • 11% Poor driving skills
  • 5% Drunk driving
  • 5% Speeding/high speed limit
  • 4% Lack of enforcement of traffic laws
  • 4% Use of heroin and other hard drugs
  • 3% Out-of-state drivers
  • 3% Failure to follow traffic laws
  • 3% Road rage
  • 2% Winter driving conditions
  • 2% Road construction/poor infrastructure

A few other items (such as the general state of roads and semi-truck driver behavior) were mentioned, but they accounted for less than one percent (each) of the total responses so we did not include them on the list above.

Do User Perceptions Agree With CDOT’s Findings?

What’s most interesting about these responses is seeing how they stack up against information that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has offered to try to explain the increase in fatalities.

Users and CDOT agreed that the following factors were likely large contributors to the high rate of fatal accidents:

  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving (CDOT says this is “an epidemic” in 2016)
  • More people on the road

While CDOT and users agree that there are a higher number of drivers on the road, they differ about why more drivers are on the road. Users generally attribute it to more people moving into Colorado, while CDOT cites the strong economy and low gas prices (more money in people’s pockets that can be spent on affordable gas).

The one item that CDOT references that users didn’t bring up was a lack of seatbelt use. Almost half of fatalities in car crashes involve someone who wasn’t wearing their seatbelt at the time of the crash.

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