St. Patrick’s Day reminder: Traffic fatalities in Colorado still largely due to DUI (letter) | VailDaily.com

St. Patrick’s Day reminder: Traffic fatalities in Colorado still largely due to DUI (letter)

You see it almost every day: A driver in the vehicle next to you has one hand on the wheel while the other is holding a smartphone. We hear a lot about distracted driving, and for good reason. It's dangerous and, unfortunately, still a common sight on our roadways. However, when it comes to lives lost on Colorado roads, it still pales in comparison to another danger we've heard about for years: impaired driving.

Law enforcement throughout Colorado will be out en masse looking for drivers impaired by alcohol, marijuana or other drugs this St. Patrick's Day. This enforcement continues to be a necessary tactic to prevent DUI and DUI-related deaths. Last year, impaired driving was suspected in more than one-third of all deadly vehicle crashes in Colorado — 36 percent, to be exact. That translates into 232 lives lost, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. By comparison, the latest distracted driving numbers, from 2016, show 67 traffic deaths in Colorado involved distracted driving.

While sobriety checkpoints and heightened enforcement are effective measures we should support, addressing this growing public-safety issue requires a renewed focus at a community level. Our organization, the Eagle River Youth Coalition, is working toward zero alcohol or drug-related crashes by engaging community partners to improve messaging, programs and opportunities to prevent impaired driving. We encourage our community to make plans to travel safely before becoming impaired and are working with partners to improve the options to get home safely in our community.

Our efforts are a part of a statewide tapestry of work that also includes efforts by NoDUIColorado, which is a multi-agency effort to prevent impaired driving, and CDOT. This coordinated approach is essential to turning the tide of a deadly trend. But for it to work, we must collectively make impaired driving prevention a priority. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact mcurtis@eagleyouth.org.

Mikayla Curtis

Manager of strategic impact, Eagle River Youth Coalition