DUI, speeding less of an issue than failure to signal and running red lights
Traffic stopped west bound Interstate 70 near Georgetown, Nov. 17, 2016.
Driving on Colorado’s roads can be a white-knuckle affair, and it isn’t just about traffic jams, massive potholes and ground blizzards emerging out of nowhere.
Colorado ranks as the eighth worst driving state measured by the rate of auto accidents, drunk driving cases, speeding tickets and traffic citations, according to a new study from online insurance comparison site QuoteWizard.
Measuring driver quality can be subjective, and many studies, including a popular one from Allstate, rely on auto insurance claims or fatalities.
But short of accidents and deaths, people who don’t follow the rules are what can make driving difficult day to day, something the QuoteWizard study tried to get at.
Colorado ranked as the 10th worst for the rate of drivers with speeding tickets and 11th worst for DUI’s. But where the state’s drivers really stood out, ranking first, was for traffic citations.
“Common citations include failure to signal, running a red light and driving without a seat belt,” said Adam Johnson, a content manager with QuoteWizard, which is based in Seattle.
Colorado’s top ranking in that category might reflect a larger share of people living in the state who think they are above the law. But diligent local police and an attentive Colorado State Patrol could provide another explanation.
Johnson said he would let local drivers make the call on which is which. Two cases last weekend, however, highlight how quickly things can get out of control on Colorado roads.
Noe Gamez-Ruiz, a commercial truck driver, failed to change lanes and drifted across the white line on Interstate 25 near Castle Rock, killing Trooper Cody Donahue who was working an accident on Black Friday, according to an arrest affidavit.
In another case last weekend in Denver, David Alberto Garcia honked at Miguel Baray to get him to move through a stop sign. Baray allegedly flipped Garcia off and Garcia responded by shooting and killing Baray in what authorities are describing as a case of road rage.
Auto insurance claims, both in frequency and severity, also support the idea that driving conditions in the state are deteriorating.
“Unfortunately, Colorado is seeing a significant spike in car insurance claims and the costs to pay those claims,” said Carole Walker, executive director with the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
Colorado ranked fourth among states for increases in physical damage claims and second in increased claim costs, Walker said.
Some of that increase reflects an overall increase in the population, which comes with a higher number of bad drivers. Walker notes that the Colorado Department of Transportation shows fatal crashes are up 12 percent.
But Colorado ranks second for hail damage claims and has experienced a big jump in litigation costs as local attorneys get more aggressive in bringing cases, adding to claim totals.
Rhode Island was the top state for quality driving, while Utah ranked worst, a surprise given how high the state ranks on other measures of civic mindedness.
Utah drivers ranked second for accidents and speeding and fourth for citations. Although many people in the state don’t drink, many of those who do apparently do drive while impaired, putting the state in the top 10 for its rate of DUI’s, according to QuoteWizard.
(by state rank)
6. South Carolina
7. North Dakota
19. New Jersey
24. New Mexico
26. New Hampshire
27. North Carolina
38. New York
42. West Virginia
44. South Dakota
50. Rhode Island