If you’re a Colorado resident, you may be thrilled to hear Fort Collins was recently named one of the safest cities to drive in out of the entire country. Before you ask yourself, “Is Fort Collins A Safe City To Drive?” Let’s take a look at what that means and why you still need to practice defensive driving here in beautiful Fort Collins.
Is Fort Collins A Safe City To Drive?
As the largest city of Larimer County, Colorado, Fort Collins has a population of 170,243 people. But when combined with nearby Loveland and other communities, the Fort Collins metro population increases considerably.
The locals here know that the Fort Collins area has become a popular residential destination for people from all over the United States. But with an increase in the population of over 17 percent in 10 years come more cars and more car accidents, as well as truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.
Fort Collins Was the 7th Safest Driving City in 2019
One reason people flock to Fort Collins is its safety, and that includes its roadways. While Fort Collins was deemed the safest driving city in the US by the Allstate Insurance Company in 2013, and the fourth safest in 2015, it was still in the top 10 in 2019.
In fact, Fort Collins was named the seventh safest driving city in the country for 2019. Denver ranked 83rd out of the 200 cities that were studied. Other Colorado cities that were included on the list were:
- Colorado Springs: 13th
- Thornton: 30th
- Lakewood: 39th
- Aurora: 92nd
The ranking was based on crash data compiled for each city. In the case of Fort Collins, the number seven spot means that the average Fort Collins driver has a traffic collision only once every 12.6 years.
Which city won the coveted number one slot? The winner was Brownsville, Texas, where drivers only file auto accident claims every 14.95 years.
The goal of the Allstate report, which is traditionally released every year just prior to the Independence Day holiday in July, is to encourage people to think more about safe driving and how they can improve their city’s accident statistics. The year 2020 gave everyone a year without rankings and a chance to reset, as many people stayed off the roads due to being home because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Living in a Safe Driving City Doesn’t Mean You Can Let Down Your Guard
Living in a city like Fort Collins with some of America’s best drivers doesn’t mean you can let down your guard when out on the road as a motorist. While the numbers are certainly in your favor, you still have to watch out for other drivers and follow driving laws yourself.
Every day, whether I’m driving or out enjoying my bicycle, I see people driving aggressively and carelessly. Some are clearly breaking the law. You too have probably seen people texting while driving, which is illegal or engaging in other dangerous behavior like tailgating, cutting off other motorists, or not allowing sufficient space when passing cyclists. One of the reasons I am a bicycle accident attorney as well as a car accident lawyer is because I’m passionate about protecting people’s rights when they are injured by these unsafe drivers.
National driving statistics
You might be surprised to learn just how hazardous some of America’s roadways are. Even though early reports from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that overall 2019 fatalities were reduced from 2018 for the third year in a row, there are some figures that are still alarming:
- Fatalities still increased in Maine, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Montana.
- There were 23,744 total fatalities by passenger vehicle occupants.
- Motorcyclists experienced 5,014 fatalities.
- There were 9,976 fatalities in light trucks, including SUVs, pickups, and vans.
- Among large trucks, there were 892 fatalities.
- Pedestrians were killed at a rate of 6,205.
- There were 846 bicyclists killed in traffic accidents.
Fatalities were slightly more prevalent in urban areas than rural ones. In many of the instances listed above, large trucks, speeding, and intersections were factors. Alarmingly, 17, 939 fatalities occurred when motorists went off the roadway. In about half of the fatalities, drivers were unrestrained (not wearing seat belts).
Fort Collins driving statistics
In June of 2019, the city of Fort Collins published its Roadway Safety in the City annual report for 2018. Thankfully, Fort Collins reflects the national trend of decreasing fatalities. But the statistics in this report shows there is still quite a bit of room for improvement:
- In 2018, there was 2,803 total reported traffic crashes.
- Almost 75 percent of those accidents occurred at intersections and/or driveways, nearly half at signalized intersections.
- When it came to severe crashes, 85 percent of the crashes were either rear end, approach turn, right angle, fixed object, pedestrian, or bicycle crashes.
- Pedestrian crashes were up 8 percent, and severe pedestrian crashes increased by 53 percent.
- Crashes, where drivers were under the influence (DUI), were up 15 percent.
- Severe right-angle crashes increased by 16 percent.
- Teenagers represent 5 percent of total drivers but were responsible for 15 percent of total crashes.
- Cyclists riding against the traffic comprised 23 percent of bike crashes.
Practice Defensive Driving to Help Reduce Your Risk of a Traffic Accident
It’s clear from the statistics listed above that Fort Collins and our nation as a whole have a long way to go in making roadways safer. It’s essential to practice defensive driving to help lower your risk of being involved in a traffic accident. This means using driving strategies that let you minimize more predictable hazards on the road.
Expect other drivers to make mistakes.
You can’t count on other drivers to do the right thing, sadly. Therefore, you have to assume they will make mistakes. Anticipate situations where other motorists are likely to drive unsafely, such as traffic signals turning from yellow to red, left-hand turns, and highway on-ramps. Drunk driving accidents tend to increase at certain hours, such as when bars close. Always use extra caution in these scenarios.
Always use restraints and safety devices.
Always wear your seat belt and make sure the other occupants of your vehicle do too. When children are in the car, use the appropriate safety restraints for them, such as infant car seats or booster seats.
Don’t drive distracted or under the influence.
Put your cell phone away, and don’t even think about taking it out while you’re driving. Turn down your radio, and create a calm atmosphere with others in the car, so you can focus on the road. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even prescription medications can affect your driving performance.
Consider driving conditions.
Even if the speed limit allows you to drive fast, sometimes it’s smarter to slow down, such as during inclement weather and at dawn and dusk, when visibility is poor. Poorly maintained roads and construction zones are another places where it’s wise to cut the speed. Move over and let other drivers pass you when possible. If there is no passing lane, don’t feel pressured to drive fast if it’s not safe to do so. Avoid driving altogether when the weather is predicted to be extremely hazardous.
Maintain your vehicle in good working order.
You are required to maintain your vehicle in proper functioning order whenever it’s on the road. Make sure vital parts like your headlights, turn signals, windshield wipers, and horn are working by doing regular checks on them.
Err on the side of caution.
When in doubt, always err on the side of safety. For example, if you’re not sure who has the right of way at a four-way stop, yield to the other driver. If you don’t know if right on red is allowed, wait for the light to change. It takes literally seconds to reduce your risk of an intersection accident.
Use your signals.
People have gotten lazy about using their turn signals. But by law, you are supposed to signal before turning, and you can be cited by law enforcement for not doing so. You can also use your hazards (flashers) if you have to drive slowly for any reason or if your vehicle is parked in a place where you want to call attention to it.
Maintain a safe space between you and others on the road.
Don’t tailgate drivers in front of you. If they stop short, you are more likely to rear-end them. Keep at least one car length between you and the vehicle in front of you for every 10 miles an hour of speed you are driving. That means at least six car lengths when driving 55 on the highway.
Look ahead to anticipate trouble.
When driving, look ahead down the road, rather than immediately in front of you or to the side. You want to be able to see anything hazardous in time to react to it safely.
Resist the urge to speed.
Speeding seems to be a national pastime. Everyone is in a hurry these days. But speed limits are there for a reason. We know speed plays a role in many fatalities each year. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and you can reduce your risk of a speed-related accident.
Let’s all work together to help get Fort Collins back to the number one ranking as the safest driving city. With your help by following the driving tips above, we can do it.
Is Fort Collins A Safe City To Drive? Contact Allen Accident Law today. Call Doug Allen at 970-364-6830 or reach out online to schedule a free confidential initial consultation.