New state data shows role of impaired driving in record-setting traffic fatalities

Traffic Safety Pulse News

New state data shows crashes and impaired driving arrests involving multiple substances, such as alcohol and cannabis used together, are prevalent. In addition, research shows that combined use of substances increases the risk of crash involvement. Earlier this month, state traffic safety officials, law enforcement and AAA gathered to raise awareness of the dangers of driving after using alcohol in combination with other drugs.March Polly Graphs

CDOT recently reported that 691 lives were lost on Colorado roads in 2021, up 50% since 2011. Since 2019, there has been a 44% increase in the number of fatalities involving an impaired driver.

The Colorado Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) published a report in January 2022 analyzing more than 26,000 impaired driving cases that were filed in Colorado in 2019, following the cases from arrest through final court outcome. The DCJ report found:

  • 45% of drivers tested positive for multiple substances. The most common combination of drugs detected was alcohol and Delta 9-THC, which is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis and may indicate recent use. The second most common pairing was alcohol combined with other drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, sedatives and opioids. 
  • 68% of individuals with detected Delta-9 THC also had some other substance present. Alcohol was the most common co-occurring substance. 

In response to the trend, CDOT is informing the public about the amplified dangers of driving impaired on multiple substances through numerous outreach and advertising campaigns. In the coming year, the agencies will implement a variety of enforcement, education and research initiatives to increase safety on Colorado roads and prevent impaired driving.