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Fatalities in Colorado Car Crashes Involving DUI: 2009 Statistics

Bachus & Schanker, LLC recently performed an analysis of statistics compiled by The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Information about drunk driving fatalities was collected, and revealed certain trends – some heartening, some alarming – within the 63 counties that comprise Colorado. Since 2005, alcohol-related deaths have been declining overall across the state. Unfortunately, in some counties, those deaths increased by a large margin. From 2008 to 2009, Larimer, Mesa, and Fremont counties saw a 100 percent increase in the number of alcohol-related fatalities. Conversely, ten counties, including Jackson, Yuma, and Rio Blanco showed a significant decline in fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers.

As a whole, traffic deaths in Colorado where alcohol was a factor have steadily decreased since 2005. Campaigns like “Tie One On For Safety” run by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have contributed greatly to raising public awareness of driving under the influence (DUI), thereby decreasing the number of drinking and driving victims.

Colorado Alcohol-Related Fatalities from 2005 – 2009*

Alcohol-Related Fatalities in Colorado vs. All Fatalities 2005 - 2009

*Based on the BAC of all those involved in the crash, including drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Between 2005 and 2009, Colorado showed a marked decrease in fatalities caused by drunk drivers, as well as fatalities resulting from accidents where Blood Alcohol Counts (BAC) registered higher than 0.08 (BAC=0.08+). In addition from 2008 to 2009, traffic-related traffic deaths decreased by 17.8%, while alcohol-related traffic fatalities only decreased by 8% during the same period.

Colorado Alcohol-Related Fatalities by Time of Day in 2009*

Alcohol-Related Deaths by Time of Day in Colorado in 2009

*Based on the BAC of the driver with the highest BAC.

According to data contained in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) drivers and passengers are three times more likely to be killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver at night than during the day.

Colorado Alcohol-Related Fatalities by Gender in 2009*

Alcohol-Related Deaths by Gender in Colorado in 2009

*Based on the BAC of the driver with the highest BAC.

FARS also reports that males are four times more likely than females to be killed in accidents with alcohol-impaired drivers.

Colorado Fatalities Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County from 2005 – 2009*

Alcohol-Related Deaths by County in Colorado 2005 - 2009

*Alcohol-impaired drivers were those measuring greater than BAC=0.08.

Top 10 Counties – Most Fatalities from 2005 – 2009

County Fatalities Jefferson 84 Denver 80 Weld 74 Arapahoe 67 Adams 57 El Paso 44 Larimer 42 Elbert 37 Douglas 33 Boulder 31

Top 10 Counties – Fewest Fatalities from 2005 – 2009

County Fatalities Phillips 0 Lincoln 0 Kiowa 0 San Juan 1 Jacson 1 Ouray 1 Hinsdale 1 Dolores 1 Mineral 1 Conejos 1

Long-term statistics gathered from 2005 to 2009 show that while the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Jefferson County dropped by 67%, and by 47% between 2008 and 2009, the country still saw an alarming number of traffic deaths – 84 – making it the deadliest county in Colorado. When statistics were compiled for the 2004 to 2008 period, Jefferson County came in second in DUI-related traffic deaths, so the increase is disturbing. At the number two position for the 2005 to 2009 time period, and also moving up a notch from its previous standing, is Denver County with 80 deaths, a drop of 25% overall, and of 29% from 2008 to 2009. Weld County has the highest percentage of drunk driving deaths in the last reporting period, and now falls to the number three spot with drops of 43% for 2005-2009, and 25% for 2008-2009, with just 74 deaths. Earning a unique distinction are Phillips, Lincoln, and Kiowa counties, none of which have had any alcohol-related deaths in the last five years.

Top 5 Counties – Most Fatalities in 2009

County Number of Fatalities Denver 18 Elbert 15 Weld 12 Arapahoe 11 Larimer 11

Colorado Fatality Rate Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County in 2009*

Alcohol-Related Fatalities per 100,000 People in Colorado in 2009*Alcohol-impaired drivers were those measuring greater than BAC=0.08. Fatality rate determined per 100,000 people.

Top 10 Counties – Highest Fatality Rate in 2009*

County Fatalities per 100,000 People Actual Fatalities Costilla 89.29 3 Lake 72.31 6 Elbert 63.44 15 Custer 49.58 2 Huerfano 43.40 3 Sedgwick 40.29 1 Gunnison 19.49 3 Moffat 14.00 2 Conejos 12.29 1 Kit Carson 11.58 1

*Fatality rate determined per 100,000 people.

Simply looking at the numbers of fatalities per 100,000 people can make the statistics seem particularly disturbing. But it should be noted that some counties with higher per capita numbers have lower actual numbers because they are not heavily populated. For example, in the top ten counties with the highest drunk driving-related traffic fatality rates in 2009, Costilla County comes in at number one with 89.29 deaths per 100,000 residents. However, the actual number of deaths is just three for the entire year. At the same time, Elbert County is number three on the list with just 63.44 deaths per 100,000 people, yet the county actually saw 15 alcohol-related traffic deaths in 2009. Most notably, the following counties all had fatality rates of zero: Morgan, Montezuma, Rio Blanco, Yuma, Cheyenne, Park, Washington, Chaffee, Prowers, Alamosa, San Miguel, Bent, Broomfield, Crowley, Otero, Teller, Baca, Gilpin, Rio Grande, Saguache, Mineral, Dolores, Hinsdale, Ouray, Jackson, San Juan, Kiowa, Lincoln, and Phillips.

Unfortunately, the statistics regarding drinking and driving victims are not reported according to age group, so while teen drunk driving is a critical issue in Colorado (the state had 92 vehicular teen deaths in 2008), it’s not known how many deaths per 100,000 residents were teenagers.

Percent of Change of Colorado Fatality Rate Involving an Alcohol-Impaired Driver by County from 2008 – 2009*

Change in Alcohol-Related Fatality Rate in Colorado from 2008 to 2009

*Alcohol-impaired drivers were those measuring greater than BAC=0.08. Fatality rate determined per 100,000 people.

Top 7 Counties – Greatest Increase in Fatality Rate 2008 to 2009*

County 2008 Fatality Rate* 2009 Fatality Rate* % of Increase Fremont 2.07 6.20 200% Mesa 2.03 4.75 133% Larimer 1.67 3.68 120% Routt 4.15 8.29 100% Montrose 2.38 4.75 100% Lake 48.20 72.31 50% Denver 2.26 2.91 29%

*Fatality rate determined per 100,000 people.

Top 10 Counties – Greatest Decrease in Fatality Rate 2008 to 2009*

County 2008 Fatality Rate* 2009 Fatality Rate* % of Decrease Chaffee 11.55 0.00 -100% San Miguel 13.01 0.00 -100% Rio Grande 15.91 0.00 -100% Sanguache 14.15 0.00 -100% Jackson 68.97 0.00 -100% San Juan 178.57 0.00 -100% Montezuma 3.89 0.00 -100% Rio Blanco 29.72 0.00 -100% Yuma 29.88 0.00 -100% Alamosa 6.30 0.00 -100%

*Fatality rate determined per 100,000 people.

View last year’s report, 2008 Colorado Drunk Driving Statistics.

MADD Colorado Chapters

Colorado Chapter
444 Lincoln Street
Denver CO, 80203
Phone: 3034255902
Web: http://www.madd.org/co
Email: co.state@madd.org
Colorado Springs
2220 E Bijou, Suite 154
Colorado Springs CO, 80909
Phone: 7193808673


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