Motor vehicle collisions are a top cause of serious bodily injuries and unintentional injury deaths in Colorado and throughout the country. Due to risks such as driver inattention, distraction and negligence, the odds of eventually getting into a car accident are relatively high in Denver. You may be able to protect yourself from a car accident, however, by learning where most of them take place.
A higher number of vehicles pass through urban areas daily, such as downtown Denver. This means that urban areas see more traffic collisions, such as rear-end collisions in heavy traffic. According to the Colorado Crash Data Dashboard, Denver County had the highest number of car accidents compared to all counties in Colorado in 2021, with 16,261 collisions. However, rural areas report a higher number of fatal accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2019, Colorado had a fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled of 1.49 in rural areas and 0.91 in urban areas. Rural areas see more fatal accidents due to a variety of factors. These include higher speeds used on back roads, poorer lighting conditions and decreased visibility, greater odds of drowsy driving, narrow two-lane roads, and animals crossing the road.
Less law enforcement presence in rural areas can also lead to drivers violating traffic laws, such as excessive speeding and running stop signs. Drivers may also become more comfortable behind the wheel – and less vigilant – as they get closer to home. One study found that around 88 percent of injured patients surveyed were involved in car accidents within 10 miles of home.
A large number of vehicle collisions that take place in urban areas occur at intersections. Intersections are dangerous because they are where two or more lanes of traffic cross each other. All drivers approaching an intersection must drive slowly, pay attention to roadway signs and yield the right-of-way to others, when applicable. If a driver ignores the rules of the road and runs a stop sign or stoplight, this can lead to a deadly intersection accident, such as a T-bone or head-on collision.
The NHTSA has created a chart detailing the type and severity of nationwide car accidents based on the location in relation to the roadway. Data collected from 2020 shows that the largest number of car accidents were reported on the roadway, with 4,220,027 total accidents in this location. Almost 22,000 of these on-roadway collisions were fatal. The second highest number was 791,443 car accidents. These occurred on the side of the road. The third highest number was 135,242 accidents, which occurred in medians.
The NHTSA also organizes car accident data by the day of week and time of day. The greatest number of fatal car accidents took place between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM (6,523 fatal accidents in 2020) in any given week. The highest number of injury accidents occur between 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM, with 382,542 collisions reported in 2020. This was also the time of day when the highest number of accidents in general took place (1,274,399).
The hours from 3:00 PM and 6:00 PM are so dangerous for drivers due to the high volume of vehicles on the road and congested traffic in “rush hour,” when most drivers are traveling home from work. While many of these accidents are nonfatal, such as minor rear-end collisions in bumper-to-bumper traffic in Denver, they can still cause serious injuries and property damage.
The most dangerous date and time for drivers in terms of fatal car accidents is Saturday night, from 9:00 PM to midnight. This is most likely due to a higher number of drug and alcohol-impaired drivers on the roads on Saturdays. If you have to travel in a dangerous location or time of day in Colorado, be extra cautious. Drive defensively and be ready to take evasive action to avoid a collision, if necessary.