Colorado State Patrol (CSP) says that the driver who crashed into slowing traffic at highway speed on Interstate 25 in Fort Collins wasn’t paying attention due to an in-cabin distraction. He is also being investigated for drug and alcohol use.
According to Fox 31 Denver, a white Ford pickup traveling south bound on I-25 shortly before 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18 failed to brake for traffic that had slowed because of guardrail work. The pickup slammed into a car containing a woman and a child, seriously injuring both occupants.
The initial impact set into motion a chain reaction involving six vehicles. Seven people were injured, including the driver of the Ford truck. The accident took place at mile marker 271 near the Harmony Road exit.
“Traffic was slowed based on the construction about a mile-and-a-half ahead,” CSP Sgt. Mark Bonfield told 9 News.“At least at this time, we’ve seen no braking.”
The Coloradoan spoke with Sgt. Bonfield at the scene, and he said the driver, who was en route to a storage facility and had a full load of boxes, became distracted when a laptop computer behind the front seat hit him in the head and caused him to look down.
Initial accident reports indicated that one person had died and 15 vehicles were involved, prompting a massive emergency response. Seven patients were transported to local hospitals for treatment, and while they’re all expected to make a full recovery, police say the accident could have been much worse.
“This is a good reminder of the secondary crash aspect of backed-up traffic,” said CSP Sgt. Rob Madden.
It’s also a reminder of the dangers of distracted driving, which according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was responsible for 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in one recent year.
A 2013 report by the Colorado Department of Transportation found that of more than 24,000 drivers observed throughout the state, 15.6 percent were found to be distracted.
Talking and texting on cell phones are among the most common driver distractions, but “traditional” distractions such as drinking, eating, smoking and reaching for objects – which appears to be what caused the recent Fort Collins crash – remain potent distractions.
The City of Fort Collins does not collect data on distracted driving crashes, but it does keep track of DUI-related crashes. Drunk driving accounted for only about 4 percent of all Fort Collins crashes in 2013, but it was responsible for roughly 21 percent of all incapacitating and fatal crashes.
It remains to be seen whether the driver who caused the I-25 crash was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Both distracted driving and driving under the influence are strong evidence of negligence and can form the basis of an automobile accident financial recovery.
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