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Colorado motor vehicle crash numbers: heading the wrong way

It's certainly easy to envision the lights burning late in the offices of government officials across Colorado who deal closely with traffic safety on state streets and highways.

Indeed, there is a lot to be concerned about.

For starters, traffic-related deaths in the state increased by a whopping 17% from 2013 to 2014. And they matched that sharp increase once again from 2014 to 2015.

The sad and simple fact is that many hundreds of people in the state -- drivers, passengers, bicyclists and pedestrians -- are dying each year in vehicle accidents. Obviously, dampening the adversity is proving to be a difficult task, as evidenced by the year-on-year jump noted above.

Two corollary points emerge in conjunction with that spike.

The first is that human negligence is a frequent contributor to wrongful death outcomes on Colorado roadways. And the second is that, notwithstanding the efforts of state regulators and law enforcers to make travel safer for state residents, Colorado's sustained high-percentage jump in vehicle-related fatalities is occurring at a rate that is more than double the national average.

Although the reasons for the troubling spike -- in every state, not just Colorado -- are many and diverse, researchers point to lowered fuel prices and a resurgent economy as being especially prominent crash-inducing catalysts. There are simply more people out on the roads than was the case a handful of years ago.

The National Safety Council stresses not only the tragic human toll linked with vehicle crashes, but the economic fallout as well. The NSC estimates that the costs associated with "motor-vehicle deaths, injuries and property damage" nationally during 2015 totaled more than $412 billion.

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