Reduce fatal and serious injury highway crashes

Why is this important to Colorado?

Protecting the lives of those who travel Colorado roadways is a top priority for the state.  The number of fatal and serious injury highway crashes have increased across the country, including in Colorado.  Nearly 18,000 people died in the first six months of 2016 in the United States--an increase of 10.4% over the same period in 2015.  In 2016, Colorado saw a similarly alarming increase in traffic fatalities with 608 up from 545 in 2015.  This could be in part due to historic increases in the number of vehicle miles traveled in the state; from 2011 to 2016, Colorado’s vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased by 12% which equates to an additional 5 billion vehicle miles traveled.  This figure was determined using the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) traffic count data for state and interstate highways from counts published in OTIS. As part of the Governor’s Vision 2018 dashboard, the Colorado Department of Public Safety and Colorado Department of Transportation have set two goals.  The first is the reduction of fatal and injury crashes covered by the Colorado State Patrol. The second goal is the reduction of statewide fatalities on Colorado’s roadways.  These two outcome measures reflect not only statewide activity but specific roadways covered by the Colorado State Patrol.

  • Nothing is more important than protecting the lives of all those who travel Colorado roadways.
  • Fatal and serious injury highway crashes have increased on Colorado’s roads.
    • In 2016, Colorado saw an alarming spike in traffic fatalities, totaling 608 fatalities compared to 547 in 2015 and has since increased to 642.  Although population and vehicle miles traveled data is only available through 2016, there has been a historical increase in both.
    • From 2010 to 2014, Colorado’s population increased by approximately 325,000 residents (Source: The Colorado State Patrol (CSP) publishes the total number of Colorado residents in its annual reports.  Data for 1996-2006 and 2010-2013 is provided by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and is estimated based on Census figures.  2007-2009 estimates were provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, and are based on estimates from the 2010 census.).
    • From 2011 to 2016, Colorado’s vehicle miles traveled increased by 12% which equates to a 5 billion VMT increase (These figures were determined using CDOT traffic count data for state and interstate highways (not including city streets or county roads) from counts published in OTIS (

How do we measure success?

Status Outcome Measure Outcome Baseline (June 2015) Actual (June 2016) Actual (June 2017) Outcome Target Target Date
Needs Improvement
Fatal and serious injury crashes on state highways 3,836 4,055 3,948 3,649 2018

Needs Improvement

Fatalities on all Colorado highways 547 608 642* 428 2018

Source: CDOT

*Preliminary CY2017 data. Source: CDOT & CSP

What actions are we taking?

  • The Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Health and Environment are collaborating to support this goal. Key activities include:

    • Analyze key statewide data and develop cost-effective engineering projects for accident mitigation
    • Develop policies that promote seatbelt use among Colorado motorists
    • Target enforcement efforts to promote safe driving behaviors and decisions
    • Promote media safety campaigns throughout the calendar year educating motorists of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, driving while impaired, child passenger safety, distracted driving, etc.
  • In October 2014, the Colorado Department of Transportation in partnership with other agencies from across Colorado, developed the Colorado Strategic Highway Safety Plan. This plan serves as a guiding document toward the overall reduction of fatal and injury crashes (towards zero deaths).  This plan is comprehensive and emphasizes the areas of; aging road users, bicyclists and pedestrians, impaired driving, infrastructure, motorcyclists, occupant protection, young drivers, data collection and distracted driving task force.
  • In addition to targeted specific safety projects through state and federal-funded programs, CDOT is studying each construction project for opportunities to improve safety. Every project must undergo a safety assessment to determine if there are opportunities to improve safety within the limits of the project for the travelling public both during construction as well as after construction is complete.
  • CDOT has developed a program dedicated to fast-tracking innovation and technology on our highway system.  Through RoadX, Smart70, Pedestrian and Bike Safety challenge, innovations are being sought, funded, and implemented to improve safety and operations.
  • The Colorado State Patrol is currently testing an education program that will promote safe driving behaviors, seatbelt use and positive choices. An education curriculum will be available for students K-12 and will also include a driver’s education component.  It is the Patrol’s goal to educate our next generation throughout their development years on the impacts of dangerous driving behaviors.
  • In addition, the Colorado State Patrol has implemented a newly created manpower allocation model. The manpower model combined with crash data analytics, will help the Patrol strategically place personnel and resources to maximize the impact on the reduction of fatal and injury crashes.  This model will be completed and implemented within the coming months.