Denver, CO

Distracted drivers, hazardous roads pack punch in Colorado

David Heitz

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By David Heitz / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) In recent weeks, the issue of bad drivers in Denver and Aurora has made headlines. But the truth is, the entire state has problem drivers.

Several websites, many run by car insurance companies, list Colorado high on the list of bad drivers. Among them:

· SmartAsset lists Colorado tenth in the nation for bad drivers. The Centennial state tied with Florida. “Colorado has the 12th-highest percentage of uninsured drivers (16.3 percent) and 18th-most DUI arrests per 1,000 drivers (3.60),” the website reports. “In 2020, there were 1.28 fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles driven, which ranks 23rd-worst overall.”

· QuoteWizard, which calls itself an insurance marketplace, lists Colorado Springs and Denver as among cities with the worst drivers, ranking 16th and 27th respectively. “The QuoteWizard research team evaluated driver quality from the 70 largest cities in America,” the website explains. “We analyzed 2021 and 2022 data from millions of insurance quotes from drivers in the 70 cities using QuoteWizard.com. We used a composite ranking system to rank each city for their rate of incidents. Incidents include accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs and citations. Cities considered the worst had the highest rates of incidents among drivers.”

· MoneyGeek, a financial services website, lists Colorado as having the 12th worst drivers among the 50 states.” Colorado has one of the lower rates of seatbelt usage at 78 percent, which puts it near the bottom of MoneyGeek’s list of worst states for drivers making smart choices behind the wheel,” the website reports.

· WalletHub listed Colorado 44th out of the 50 states for best drivers. “To identify the states with the most positive driving experiences, WalletHub compared all 50 states across 31 key indicators of a positive commute,” the financial services website reports. “Our data set ranges from average gas prices to rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality.”

Drugs, alcohol popular in Colorado

Adding to the chances of having a bad experience on the roads in Colorado, several studies have shown Colorado has a substance abuse problem. Alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs contribute significantly to impaired driving.

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CBS 4 reported on drunk and drugged driving in Colorado last year. “While alcohol is still the drug of choice, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation says 47 percent of drivers are testing positive for marijuana, followed by amphetamines and cocaine. The Colorado State Patrol says DUI arrests involving marijuana are up 48 percent the last year.”

Denver Health recently stated that Denver has an alcohol problem. “More than one in four Denver adults (27 percent) binge drinks,” according to the Public Health Institute at Denver Health hospital. “What’s more, the people who drink excessively in Denver make up a greater portion of the adult population than in any other comparable Western city. And while the health effects of alcohol are common knowledge, experts say that in Denver, proven strategies to limit alcohol use are underutilized.”

Winding roads no place for intoxicated drivers

What’s extra-scary about Colorado being home to some of the worst driver’s in the nation is that it also has some of the most hazardous roads in the U.S. From winding mountain paths to unpredictable, hazardous weather, both rural and urban roads in Colorado prove dangerous. In Denver, cars crowd roads. Everyone seems to be in a hurry. Bicycles and scooters also share the road, providing more opportunities for crashes.

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It makes good sense to drive defensively on Colorado roads. You may be paying attention, but there’s a good chance others aren’t. Being aware of speeders and lane-weavers will help drivers stay safe in the urban rush.

Remember, driving in Colorado is dangerous without drugs and alcohol. Driving sober and attentive will help keep the roads safe.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO
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