Why did Fort Collins see its highest rise in fatal car accidents in over a decade?
2017 saw an increased spike in motor vehicle collisions, and it is leaving experts baffled as to why. 14 people died in auto accidents in 2017 which is the most dramatic increase in over a decade.
Per data compiled by law enforcement agencies, the Larimer County Coroner and the City’s traffic operations there were seven drivers and passengers, four motorcyclists and three pedestrians killed in auto Collins in 2017. (Niedringhaus, 2018). The number of fatal accidents is a sharp contrast; Fort Collins had eight fatal crashes in 2016 and four in 2015. (Niedringhaus, 2018)
Engineers are looking at that data as well as non-fatal accidents to determine what is causing the increase and how they can prioritize roadway safety projects. For example, the intersection of North Giddings Road and Richards Lake does not have a stop sign, and Kelly Cortez and her son Joshua were killed in a November crash. In response, city and county traffic engineers added larger stop signs to that intersection and thermoplastic stop bars for traffic on Richards Lake. As an additional precaution, they added advance-warning signs and highlighted the upcoming intersection to warn approaching traffic. (Niedringhaus, 2018)
Joe Olson, Head of Traffic Operation in Fort Collins cites an increase in population in Fort Collins as being part of the 22% increase in traffic accidents since 2012. (Aniello, 2017) Since 2000, Fort Collins has seen a rise in the population of more than 32% according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and that number continues to rise each year. The last documented number was a population of 164, 207 as of July 1, 2016, (U.S. Census Bureau , 2018).
So, what can you do to stay safe?
Olson is quoted as saying that “These crashes are completely preventable with a bit of acumen.” (Aniello, 2017).
- Olson states that most crashes (47%) are car vs. car. The most prevalent of these are rear end crashes. Cell phones and driving while intoxicated are some of the most common forms of inattentive or careless driving which leads to rear end crashes.
- The next most common form of collision are motorists making a left turn on a yellow light. Crash reports indicate that most people assume oncoming traffic will stop for the yellow light and therefore they proceed. This is not always the case and the result is a high- speed accident. (Aniello, 2017)
- Car vs. bicycle account for another 23% of crashes and awareness is a key factor in those as well. Olson states that the City has worked to make an infrastructure that accommodates both roadway users and a public awareness campaign to make drivers more attentive to cyclists.