State Patrol sees large increase in accidents on Interstate |

State Patrol sees large increase in accidents on Interstate

summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado

SUMMIT COUNTY ” A dangerous combination of winter weather and high speeds resulted in a significant increase in the number of accident on the Summit County corridor of Interstate 70 this past winter.

According to the Colorado State Patrol, accidents on I-70 from January through March rose from 441 in 2007 to 615 in 2008, and closures rose from 93 to 156.

“Weather drove a lot of the closures, and a lot of the problems we saw were just driver error and not respecting the conditions,” said Capt. Ron Prater with the Colorado State Patrol.

Many of the crashes occurring on the Interstate were attributed to high speeds and drivers not taking the proper precautions when driving through extreme winter weather.

“We get tired of saying the same thing over and over but people really need to slow down and learn to drive for the conditions,” said Prater.

Of the 615 accidents this winter, 33 involved an injury and 9 were attributed to individuals driving under the influence. Corridor hot spots for accidents included the west-bound downhill segment from the Eisenhower Tunnel to Silverthorne, and the steep downhill grade on the east-bound side of the tunnel.

“You can’t expect to drive through Summit and Clear Creek Counties like you do down near Denver. It’s a different animal and people need to learn to respect these roads and the hazards involved with driving on them,” said Prater.

One improvement the State Patrol has seen on the Interstate this year is truckers complying with chain restrictions. Through numerous projects with the Colorado Department of Transportation there are now more spaces for truckers to pull off and chain up, making the roadway safer for both truckers and other drivers on the road.

“It’s always easy to blame the truckers for accidents, but we’re getting greater compliance than ever before,” said Prater, citing that more can still be done to make pull offs more accessible.

Moving into the summer months the State Patrol is expecting the number of accidents on I-70 to decrease, although summer traffic poses an entire new set of problems.

“In the summer we have more traffic and people going much faster,” said Prater. “It’s easy to overlook the off-season but plenty of crashes still happen.”

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