Adams, DougCo state patrol cruisers struck during heavy snowstorm

Heather Willard

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Jan. 19, 2023

(Douglas County, Colo.) Two Colorado State Patrol vehicles, one in Douglas County and one in Adams, were hit by drivers within hours of each other during this week’s winter storm. No injuries were reported.

The Douglas County crash was reported at about 8:45 a.m. Jan. 18, when a trooper covering a single-car crash was struck by passing vehicles on C-470 near Santa Fe Drive.

Both crashes occurred after drivers failed to slow down or move over when they saw emergency vehicles on the shoulder or stopped.

“When winter weather returns, we know troopers and other roadside workers are at greater risk from motorists not factoring in poor road conditions or reduced space to work due to ice and snow,” said Colonel Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol.

“Drivers put down the distractions and let go of excuses about needing to speed … Please protect us, so we can protect you when you need us.”

The slow down, move over law requires drivers move over a lane to provide space to work or slow down if there is no opportunity to move over.

The law was updated during the Colorado General Assembly’s 2020 regular session and used to require drivers only to reduce and maintain a safe speed while overtaking emergency, tow, or public utility vehicles on the side of the road.

The update provided safe speeds for drivers to maintain: 25 mph if the speed limit is below 45 mph or at least 20 mph less than the posted speed limit if it exceeds 45 mph, such as on a highway.

Roadside workers are vulnerable to injury and death because their jobs naturally expose them to the dangers of working around passing vehicles. The slow down, move over law also protects passing motorists from living with the consequence and memory of striking one of these workers. Additionally, drivers that fail to slow down or move over commit the crime of careless driving, a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense that can result in up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.

The State Patrol encourages drivers to use extra caution around traffic or when hazardous weather occurs. Whatever speed you think you can go in adverse conditions, a good rule of thumb is to go 10 mph under that and to reduce chances of crashing.

In November 2022, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported preliminary data showing over 1,000 instances when drivers crashed into an existing crash scene in Colorado during 2021. Nationwide, 65 emergency responders died when other vehicles struck responders’ vehicles..

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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