(Colorado) – If you are taking a trip to Southwest Colorado chances are you are hoping to see the beautiful scenery as head to your final destination. The Colorado State Patrol wants to encourage the driver to pull off at scenic overlooks and rest stops instead of driving while distracted or parking on the shoulder of the road.
“Many mountain roads are only a single lane in each direction with steep grades and blind curves. Simply put a partial lane obstruction is a major hazard,” cautions Major Rob Marone, District 5 Commander, Colorado State Patrol. “If you were distracted enough to pull over on a road with limited or no shoulder, chances are the person behind you or coming toward you could be equally distracted.”
In addition, mountains come with some moving hazards as well. Wildlife including elk, deer, mountain lions or even squirrels can walk into your lane, especially from dusk through dawn. So far this year there have been 32 injury and/or fatal crashes caused by animal vs. vehicle collisions. Nearly 50% of those occurred on Colorado Highway 160.
Two of the most important things a motorist can do is to drive the speed limit and use your high beams at night when not around other motorists in rural areas or neighborhoods adjacent to open space areas. Increase your chances of seeing wildlife crossing up ahead or on the side of the road by staying alert. You can give yourself the time to adjust your speed or stop if no one is behind you.
“The worst choice you can make is to swerve outside your lane or slam on your brakes with vehicles behind you,” explained Major Marone. “People can end up in serious crashes when they let their emotions take over to avoid a critter collision.”
Be prepared to make a tough decision when encountering animals. If you have time and space you can sound your horn and slow down in a straight line, coming to a stop. If you have very little time and distance and no one is behind you, you can brake hard in a straight line. However, if there is little time and traffic behind you, the right choice is to drive through, keeping in the lane, but with a slight angle towards the butt of the animal ONLY if by the white side lane line. Never swerve or jerk the wheel.
As part of a summer awareness campaign, Super Cruising in Colorado, the Colorado State Patrol has created a web resource to help prepare visitors on the scenic byways and mountains roadways throughout the area as well as common traits of two-lane roads. In addition, check out the video on how to properly distribute weight on your trailer.
ABOUT THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
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.