Grand County’s traffic citations, fatalities escalate in 2019
Sheriff requests public involvement to end 'epidemic'
Three times as many people have already died on Grand County’s roads this year when compared to last year’s numbers, while traffic citations continue to outpace those in 2018.
Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin addressed the recent uptick of traffic concerns in a Facebook video to the community pledging to try and make roads in the county safer.
“My passion is to do everything that is humanly possible to keep our community the very safest,” Schroetlin said. “This is an epidemic that must be stopped today.”
So far this year, nine people have died in motor vehicle accidents, compared to three last year.
According to the sheriff’s office, this year they have issued over 1,400 traffic citations for moving violations, such as speeding, failure to signal or stop and road rage. In 2018, the sheriff’s office issued a total of roughly 1,400 traffic citations.
These numbers also don’t include citations made by Colorado State Patrol nor municipal police departments.
The top three moving violations drivers have been cited for in Grand County this year have been speeding, careless driving and improper lane changes. Traffic concerns also account for the majority of the calls the county dispatch office receives, according to the sheriff’s office.
“It often takes a back seat to criminal activity, but when you look at the scheme of things, we haven’t had nine murders,” said Lt. Dan Mayer, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “In terms of impact to the community, traffic does more than anything.”
In an effort to try and reduce unsafe traffic behavior, the sheriff’s office asked residents to report offending drivers to dispatch and encouraged them to share photos or video evidence, such as dashcam footage, when possible.
Sheriff’s deputies also recently increased their presence on US Highway 40 at Red Dirt Hill, which has been the site of many car wrecks, including at least two of the fatalities this year.
“Our deputies are out there every day fighting the fight, … but we can’t do it alone,” Schroetlin says toward the end of the video. “I ask you to say something if you see something.”
Schroetlin noted that since 2006 call volumes have gone from 2,700 to over 15,000 while staffing has stayed roughly the same, which makes it difficult to have a constant presence in trouble areas, such as State Highway 9 and the Innsbruck and Winter Park Highlands neighborhoods.
However, Schroetlin said the office has made note of problem areas and deputies patrol them when call volume allows.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is also stepping in by conducting a safety study on the Red Dirt Hill portion of Highway 40 that may result in changes.
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