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Driving You Crazy: Why are all the messages on the CDOT signs so depressing?

Who is in charge of writing about all the deaths?
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Posted at 2:35 PM, Nov 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-21 07:39:39-05

Stacey from Greenwood Village writes, “Who is in charge of the writing that goes on the electronic signs all over the metro area? Their default signage is something along the lines of 34 dead babies this year..be careful. Or 500 dead motorcyclists..look where you're going..and 700 dead people from DUI's..watch yourself. It's like Debby Downer is writing these things vs. keep that seatbelt on! Don't tailgate, etc. When you're stuck in traffic for long periods, which nowadays seems like always, it's super depressing and not a great PR campaign for Denver. Hundreds of thousands of drivers are concentrating on death (like that's all there is happening in Denver) for an extended period of time. I'd gladly volunteer to write more upbeat statements!”

Stacey, I posed your question to Sam Cole, the traffic safety communications manager at CDOT. He directs the employees at the CDOT Transportation Management Center in Golden to put those messages on the variable message boards throughout the state. He said the messages are a way to remind drivers of the serious consequences of not paying attention while driving their car.

“With fatalities on the rise, it is our duty to keep the public informed about the dangers on our roadways. By posting the number each week we hope to increase awareness of the problem and prompt people to drive more safely,” said Cole.

CDOT officials said as of mid-November there have been 536 traffic fatalities in Colorado. 167 of those are deaths involving some type of suspected impairment by alcohol or drugs. July and September are tied for the deadliest months with 73 each, followed in order by June, August and October.

There were a total of 547 deaths on Colorado roadways in 2015 and 488 deaths on Colorado roadways in 2014. Between 1994 and 2015. there has been a total of 12,785 fatalities on Colorado roads.

MORE: Read more traffic issues driving people crazy

Cole told me CDOT likes to include a general safety message with each grim reminder posted on the variable message boards of the number of drivers who were killed on Colorado roads this year. He said he agrees that the statistics are getting pretty depressing as the year comes to a close and he is open to including more positive messages with the public’s help.

“We do take suggestions for clever, short slogans on traffic safety. We are glad to start using some positive slogans like 'Thanks for buckling up,'" Cole said.

With the snowy weather, many of the signs were changed to read, “Road Icy In Areas Slow Down or Passenger Vehicle Traction Law in Effect." 

Denver7 traffic reporter Jayson Luber says he has been covering Denver-metro traffic since Ben-Hur was driving a chariot. (We believe the actual number is about 20 years.) He's obsessed with letting viewers know what's happening on their drive and the best way to avoid the problems that spring up. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter or listen to his Driving You Crazy podcast.