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Report: Pedestrian fatalities in Colorado are soaring

Worried about crossing the street or jogging near traffic in Colorado? If not, you should be, according to recent reports. They show that the number of deadly pedestrian accidents in Colorado has increased substantially in the past decade.

The big picture

First, let's take a look at the overall picture, using statistics from 2008 to 2018. In that decade, per the Colorado Department of Transportation, fatalities started off at 8.58 percent of the overall traffic deaths. By the time you got to 2018, they had increased to 14.15 percent of traffic deaths.

That's a stunning increase for a relatively short time. The percentage of traffic deaths, which is in some ways far more telling than the overall numbers, nearly doubled. It is clear that the risks people see near roads haven't been this high in a long time.

Total deaths in Denver

Perhaps you feel that looking at percentages makes it hard to see what the risk really looks like. That's understandable, so let's consider the total deaths in these accidents.

In Denver alone -- just one city -- 59 people passed away in 2018. At Walk Denver, the executive director put it this way:

"Fatalities have also been on the rise here in Denver over the past 10 years. This past year, we had one of the highest fatality rates of 59 people who were killed just trying to get around our city."

These issues mirror the overall trends in the state and really help expose the problem. Pedestrians need to keep the risks in mind any time they go out to walk the dog, go for a run or simply walk to a friend's house.

Cellphone use

A lot of different factors play into this. Some people have criticized the high traffic speeds. Others have noted that pedestrians do not always pay attention. Still others have looked at the specific types of vehicles that get into these accidents.

One thing that experts often point to, though, is cellphone distractions. When drivers get distracted and drift onto the shoulder, they can hit pedestrians who are walking safely. When pedestrians get distracted, they may step in front of cars.

That said, not everyone wants to blame phones. "People have always been distractible, even before cell phones," said the executive director. "We like to blame cell phones for the increase of fatalities but we're human beings, we're fallible and if we're expecting to solve our fatality problem by perfecting human beings, we're setting ourselves up for failure."

Your rights

Have you lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident or suffered serious injuries after getting hit by a car? Make sure you know exactly what rights you have as the risks continue to increase.

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