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Colorado Car Accidents Involving Emergency Vehicles Said to be on the Rise

Colorado drivers are ignoring “move over and slow down” warnings, as well as state laws enforcing them, according to officials.

An “alarming” spike in car crashes involving emergency and other vehicles has state officials warning drivers to be more cautious on the road, The Colorado Springs Gazette reports. That includes accidents in which cars and trucks strike police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, tow trucks and maintenance vehicles.

“We’re in January and we’ve had a substantial increase in struck-by incidents of first responders,” Maj. Darce Weil of Colorado State Patrol Division 1 reportedly said in a recent press conference. “It’s a concerning trend.”

Two recent collisions highlight the risks. 

A driver reportedly slammed into an unoccupied Colorado State Patrol trooper car in January, injuring the officer who had exited the vehicle to respond to an earlier crash on C470. A week later, a car collided with a parked Colorado Department of Transportation truck as first responders tended to an earlier accident. 

“While we didn’t have serious injuries in these two crashes, I can’t emphasize enough the danger that these crashes pose,” Weil said during the press conference.

The accidents – commonly referred to as “struck-by” collisions – are a reminder that drivers must remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times when behind the wheel. Drivers that do not live up to this responsibility face not only traffic tickets but also personal liability for any crashes that happen as a result.

Nearly 750 people died in car accidents across Colorado last year, according to the Gazette, the highest total in four decades. That reportedly is a nearly 60% jump from just 10 years ago.

If you have been injured in a “struck-by” or other accident in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help. We are seasoned injury attorneys who combine decades of experience and have a track record of successful results.

Colorado’s “Move Over, Slow Down” Law

Colorado law requires motorists to take extra caution in certain emergency situations.

The state’s “move over, slow down” law has long been on the books, but it was updated to try to crack down on dangerous driving in 2020. The law forces drivers to take certain steps when approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, tow vehicle, or public utility vehicle working at, near, or in the roadway with its lights flashing.

The law requires drivers to move at least one lane away from the stationary vehicle while passing. If the driver is unable to do so, he or she must reduce the car’s speed to at least 25 miles per hour on roadways with a speed limit below 45 miles per hour. On roadways with speed limits of 45 miles per hour or more, motorists must slow down to 20 miles per hour less than the speed limit.

A driver who violates this law faces a Class 2 traffic offense, which is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and $300 in fines. The nature of the offense and the penalties that come with it increase if the driver causes an accident in which a person is injured or killed.

The law was previously enhanced following the 2016 death of a Colorado State Patrol trooper. Cody Donahue died after being struck by a truck while responding to an accident on I-25 near Tomah Road in Castle Rock. The trucker behind the wheel was later convicted on criminal charges stemming from the collision

Why “Struck-By” Accidents Can be Deadly

Accidents involving stopped emergency vehicles and others are on the rise, despite the serious injuries and stiff penalties that can come with them.

In Colorado alone, “struck-by” accidents involving CDOT vehicles were up 133% last year, the Gazette reports. The number of CDOT employees hit by cars in these collisions reportedly jumped by 50% during the same time.

These accidents can have particularly severe and even fatal consequences for first responders, who often have little or no time to react and evade oncoming vehicles. They can also make earlier crashes worse, adding to the injuries and property damage already sustained.

A total of 50 first responders were killed in “struck-by” accidents last year, the Gazette reports. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Proving Fault in Colorado Car Accident Cases

Anyone who is injured in a car accident in Colorado has the right to seek compensation from negligent drivers and others responsible for the crash. To get that compensation, you have to be able to prove fault.

Colorado law generally requires anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle in the state to act in a reasonably safe manner under the circumstances.

That means complying with traffic laws, obeying signs and taking additional care in inclement weather and hazardous situations. Drivers are also expected to avoid particularly dangerous activities like speeding, aggressive driving, drinking and driving, and operating a vehicle while drowsy or distracted.

A driver who does not live up to this responsibility is likely to be found negligent and legally responsible for any crashes that occur as a result. 

Drivers are not the only ones who can be negligent. Car manufacturers who make defective vehicles, road construction crews that leave driving surfaces in hazardous conditions and pedestrians and cyclists who fail to act safely may also be to blame.

Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a “struck-by” or other crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you take action. We work tirelessly to help people and families maximize their compensation.

We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.

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