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2021 Brought a High Number of Citations — How the State Patrol Is Responding with the “Stay in Your Lane” Initiative

According to state troopers, roadways throughout Colorado have unfortunately become more dangerous in recent years. In fact, the past three years saw what was perhaps the worst era for pedestrian safety, which includes people traveling by bike. 

For legal purposes, the state often designates bike riders as pedestrians, such as when determining what kind of traveler will have access to what kinds of roads. For example, pedestrians and cyclists are prohibited from traveling on interstate highways.

Those on foot or on a bike are the most vulnerable in a traffic accident, and tragically, some victims may not survive. In order to ensure that Colorado roads are safe for all travelers, the State Patrol is announcing warnings to all drivers to stress the importance of being more aware of cyclists and pedestrians. 

State Troopers Are Cracking Down on Reckless Drivers

Distraction behind the wheel is all too common, from eating breakfast on the morning commute to even driving under the influence. 

“Our citation data over a three-year period (2019-2021), they saw that 2021 had the highest year of citations related to pedestrians,” a representative from the Colorado State Patrol said recently.

The State Patrol representative offered further clarification on the increase in traffic citations for reckless drivers, noting that:

  • CSP troopers issued more than 20 citations for driving in a pedestrian-only zone 
  • Troopers cited 63 drivers for not yielding the right of way to bikers or pedestrians 
  • 40% of these types of tickets were issued in 2021 alone

Distracted drivers, even those who are only adjusting the radio or talking with their passengers, can cause present danger to themselves and others on the road. A serious collision is likely when the distracted driver fails to notice a pedestrian or cyclist in their path.

Colorado Laws for Pedestrian Road Use

In many cases, pedestrians have the right-of-way in traffic, as per Colorado state statutes. Certain designated pedestrian zones, such as crosswalks and sidewalks, give those on foot or on a bike a safe place to cross the road. 

However, pedestrians and cyclists must cross at a guided intersection (one with a stop sign or stop light) where available and follow traffic signs, like pedestrian signals or traffic lights.

Pedestrians are still responsible for their own safety and for taking steps to avoid causing an accident. For example, if there are vehicles moving in a traffic lane, a pedestrian cannot step off the curb and into the lane. They must yield the right-of-way to passing vehicles and not place themselves in the vehicle’s path. 

Drivers, however, should always be aware of the potential for pedestrians or bikers to walk into their lane, especially in areas with a lot of foot traffic, such as in Downtown Denver or near the University of Colorado in Boulder.

To reduce the increasing number of car and pedestrian accidents, the State Patrol launched a pedestrian awareness initiative called “Stay in Your Lane” at the beginning of 2022. As students return to school for the fall, it’s critical to remind the public that there will be more people walking and biking on the streets.

Chief Packard states, “Our data shows that during warmer months and congested times … crashes involving a pedestrian or bicyclist are much more likely.”

Risks for Colorado Pedestrians

Pedestrians are responsible for protecting themselves when sharing the road with cars and trucks. While they have the right-of-way in most situations, this doesn’t mean that someone can simply walk into the road and expect cars to come to a standstill.

The Colorado State Patrol is taking its initiative further than only informing drivers to be more cautious of pedestrians. Troopers are adopting a zero-tolerance approach toward drivers committing a lane violation, which is considered:

  • An unsafe lane change, like changing lanes without signaling
  • Weaving into another lane due to distraction or impairment
  • Taking up more than one lane

If caught violating Colorado lane traffic laws, a driver can face serious consequences, including a citation, fines, and points on their license. Pedestrians or cyclists, meanwhile, can be cited for entering a traffic lane when they don’t have the right of way.

The Colorado State Patrol Releases Some Disturbing Numbers

The State Patrol notes that the number of people on roads unintended for pedestrian use is rising. 

Over the last few years, the CSP investigated from than 150 crashes involving someone on a road where they shouldn’t be. Tragically, 75% of the time, these crashes lead to a catastrophic or fatal injury. Furthermore, 2021 saw a 52.9% increase in wrecks involving pedestrians on a roadway where pedestrians and cyclists are not allowed.

Unlike a residential area or city street with a sidewalk and large shoulder, many state highways and rural or country roads aren’t designed for safe pedestrian travel. When pedestrians use these roads, the likelihood of injury or death in a crash rises significantly. 

What Should You Do If You’re Struck While Walking? 

If you’ve been struck by a car while cycling or walking, it is important to: 

  • Seek emergency medical care for the best chance of recovery
  • Call the police, as they can complete an accident report that details the circumstances of the crash
  • Avoid claiming fault for the accident, as there may be factors you are unaware of
  • Try to recall as many details about the car and the accident as you can
  • Collect contact information for witnesses where available
  • Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer before speaking to the other party’s insurance company

Pedestrians who have been hit by a car may be entitled to claim damages against the driver that struck them. This includes the cost of your medical care and repairing or replacing the bicycle.

The Bottom Line

If you're planning to walk or bike along Colorado roadways, check your route for safety before you depart. Drivers are encouraged to watch for pedestrians, but still, accidents can happen.

If you’re hit by a driver while walking or biking, contact the Law Office of Stuart Mann, a pedestrian accident law firm. 

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