Annual Fatal Crash Investigation Data by the Colorado State Patrol Reveal the Tragic Results of Lane Violations

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(COLO) – Traffic deaths surged across Colorado in 2021 hitting a 20-year high with conscious choices to drive distracted, drive under the influence and drive aggressively resulting in fatal behaviors on our roads. One identified way that each of these choices can affect a motorist’s behavior is through their inability to stay safely centered in their driving lane.

In 2021, Colorado State Troopers investigating injury and fatal crashes around the state saw a spike in crashes caused by drivers leaving their lane, both crossing over the center line or off the side of the road. Investigators found a 30.6% increase in injury crashes caused by lane violations. Even more alarming, investigators saw a 74% increase in fatal crashes caused by lane violations in 2021.  

“Focus and control behind the wheel occur when the task of driving is your number one priority and receives your full attention,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “No amount of experience behind the wheel can prevent a tragedy when you don’t have the time or the awareness to react to another motorist, changing road conditions or unplanned hazard in your path.”

Looking at last year’s lane violation-caused fatal crashes investigated by the Colorado State Patrol, the top five counties that had the largest quantity of fatalities were:

  1. El Paso County
  2. Douglas County
  3. Boulder County
  4. Mesa County
  5. Jefferson County

Looking at data over a three-year period (2019-2021) showed that Saturday was the deadliest day of the week for lane violation crashes with peak hours between 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Refresher on Lane Positioning

A driver’s primary or “default” position for normal circumstances is to drive so that your vehicle (not the driver) is in the center of the lane with equal amounts of space on both sides of the vehicle.

The second lane position is to have the vehicle aligned to the left, ensuring that the vehicle is still safely off the dividing line. This should be used with caution if you are avoiding a hazard on the right part of the lane (i.e. driving through a city block where parked car doors may open) or if you are slowing down due to a road worker or emergency responder on the shoulder.  As soon as possible, you should return to your primary, centered lane position.

The third lane position is to have the vehicle aligned to the right, ensuring that the vehicle is still safely off the right lane line. This would be used when avoiding a hazard in the left part of the lane. As soon as possible, you should return to your primary, centered lane position.

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Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs.  In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more.