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Colorado State Patrol (CSP) reports that it is seeing an increase of people on roadways not designed for pedestrian use. As spring turns into summer, the CSP is warning that unlike municipal and neighborhood streets or roads, many of which have designated bike lanes or large shoulders, there are many highways and rural roadways that are not designed for pedestrian use.

Over the last three years (2019-2021) there have been 157 crashes investigated by the Colorado State Patrol involving a person in a roadway where they were not permitted. These crashes resulted in a fatality or serious injury 75 percent of the time.

In addition, there was a 52.9 percent increase in 2021 over 2020 for crashes involving a person in a roadway where they were not permitted.

When pedestrians are present on access-controlled roads, such as highways, they are placing themselves and motorists at great risk and can be ticketed, or worse, injured or killed.

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort. Photo by Jan Wondra.

Here in Chaffee County, one of the more dangerous stretches of road for pedestrians appears to be CR 162, in the area through Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. In fact, a pedestrian crossing that very road (on a semi-established walkway) between cabins and the resort’s hot springs pools on a January evening in 2017 was struck and killed by a speeding motorist.

Pedestrians visiting the resort often ignore the established walkways between the north and south areas of the resort, regularly walking into the path of cars in that section of the county road. In fact, pedestrians often walk in the middle of the county road above the resort, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are in the middle of a county road.

For their part, motorists also often fail to observe the 20 MPH speed limit on the two county roads that cross the resort (CR 162 and CR 321).

On CR 162, which also happens to have a section of road where the Colorado Trail joins it, then proceeds east and on up CR 321 above Mt. Princeton Resort, casual walkers can intermingle with tired hikers just off the Colorado Trail, as well as commercial conga lines of trailers hauling giant ATVs, tourists pulling motor homes and SUVs headed up to St. Elmo for off-road adventures.

“Crossing a highway on foot or walking alongside a road that is not designed for pedestrians is extremely dangerous,” said Sergeant Troy Kessler with the Colorado State Patrol.  “Seeing a person walking on a road not designed for pedestrians would be unexpected for a driver. If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance as a pedestrian on a highway, exercise extreme caution, keep alert and distraction-free to avoid a worst possible case scenario. If you’re the driver, expect everything, pay attention and put away the distraction to avoid hitting someone.”

Looking at fatal and injury crashes caused by a pedestrian being in a roadway where not permitted, the top five counties from highest to lowest (no surprise) they are all Front Range metro counties):

  • Adams County
  • Jefferson County
  • El Paso County
  • Arapahoe County
  • Boulder County

The CSP data for the same time period also identified the top five roadways for fatal and injury crashes caused by a pedestrian in a roadway where not permitted included, listed here from highest to lowest. Note that statewide, fifth place for pedestrian-car crashes is a tie between two highways that traverse Chaffee County — U.S. 50 and U.S. 285:

  1. I-25
  2. I-70
  3. U.S. 287
  4. U.S. 6
  5. Tied for fifth place: U.S. 50 and U.S. 285

As we all begin traveling more, the CSP has these safety tips for travelers:

If you see someone in an unsafe situation on a highway, the Colorado State Patrol recommends safely pulling off the highway, parking, then calling 9-1-1 for assistance.

If your vehicle breaks down and you can’t exit the roadway first, pull off the road as far as you can, put your hazard lights on, and call for help.

If you can place yourself safely on the opposite side of a guardrail or on top of a hill, exit the car on the non-traffic side and move to the safest possible location.

If you can’t call for help and need to walk, go to the nearest exit or safe location by walking facing traffic as close to the edge of the road as safely possible.

Formed in 1935 at the advent of the automobile-travel industry, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. The CSP has some 1,100 officers. In addition to its expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, and aviation operations.

Featured image: Narrow, rural roadway, no paved shoulder and poor visibility greatly increase risk of a pedestrian-auto crash. Photo courtesy Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash