How Colorado’s Weather Contributes to Car Accidents

Colorado is known for its diverse landscapes and dynamic weather patterns. The state experiences everything from sunny skies to blinding blizzards and torrential thunderstorms. While the changing seasons showcase Colorado’s natural beauty, the fickle weather can also make driving conditions hazardous. From slippery snow-covered roads to poor visibility in dense fog, Colorado’s weather directly impacts accident rates year-round.

Winter Driving Hazards

Winter brings heavy snowfall to Colorado’s high country and foothills. The mountains west of Denver can receive feet of snow during a single storm, while the Front Range cities still accumulate significant snow totals. Icy roads and heavy snow contribute to loss of control crashes every winter. As people rush to get to work on snowy mornings or head home after dark, slick conditions lead to increased accidents. Low visibility during whiteout conditions also causes multi-vehicle pileups.

Vehicles sliding off roads or colliding with other cars, barriers, or objects account for the majority of snow and ice accidents. Rollovers are also more likely, especially for top-heavy SUVs. The Colorado State Troopers have put out warnings encouraging people not to drive in these conditions unless they have to as accident rates are 2.5 times as likely.

Additionally, the cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls associated with Colorado winters can lead to impaired road conditions. Potholes, frost heaves, and crumbling pavement plague highly traveled roads. Damage from the freeze/thaw cycle causes uneven road surfaces, which can lead drivers to lose control if they hit these hazards at high speeds. Slowing down and being aware of changing road conditions is key to safe winter driving.

Spring and Fall Hazards

While winter sees the most weather-related crashes in Colorado, spring and fall also bring hazardous conditions. The freeze/thaw cycle continues into spring as daytime highs rise above freezing but plunge below freezing overnight. This creates slick spots of black ice on roadways as melted snow refreezes. April snow showers can also dump snow that quickly melts and refreezes, increasing the risk of accidents.

Fall brings unpredictable weather as winter approaches, including early snows. Cold fronts drop temperatures rapidly, turning rain into snow. The first snowfalls before drivers have switched to winter tires or put on chains result in vehicles spinning out. Foggy conditions combined with wet leaves on the road also decrease traction in the fall. The highest accident rates after winter occur during March, October, and November due to the variable transitional weather.

Summer Monsoons

Summer in Colorado is known for sunny days and dramatic afternoon thunderstorms called monsoons. The sunny mornings lull people into a false sense of security on the roads. But within minutes, a monsoon can appear out of nowhere, bringing heavy rain, hail, lightning, and powerful winds. Monsoons create instant slick roads and dramatically reduce visibility.

Drivers may hydroplane if they do not slow down when it starts pouring. Hail accumulating on roadways also causes slippery conditions similar to snow and ice. Decreased visibility during torrential downpours increases the likelihood of multi-car pileups, especially on high speed highways. Lightning strikes can also startle drivers. Monsoon season runs from July through September, spiking accident rates as people try to beat the storms home. Turning on headlights, reducing speed, and not using cruise control can enhance safety when monsoon storms strike.

Mountain Driving Risks

In addition to problematic weather, Colorado’s mountainous landscape poses unique challenges. Steep roads winding through the mountains with sharp drop-offs are inherently more dangerous than flat, straight roads. Mountain driving involves added risks like falling rocks, mudslides, and avalanches across the roadway. Wildlife like deer, elk, and bighorn sheep often graze along mountain roadsides as well, posing collision hazards.

With the additional risks of mountain driving, it is imperative to remain alert at all times. Allow extra following distance behind other vehicles and watch for rockfall warning signs. Focusing completely on the road helps avoid disastrous consequences. Mountain accidents are harder to get help for due to remoteness and lack of cell service. Being prepared with supplies and notifying others of your travel plans is advised.

The Impact of Colorado’s Erratic Weather

The diverse topography and climate across Colorado make weather a significant factor in accident rates. From winter snowstorms to summer hailstorms and everything in between, drivers must adapt to the changing conditions. Being aware of forecasts and upcoming weather events can help you modify travel plans if necessary. Adjusting driving behavior by slowing down, increasing following distance, and avoiding cruise control is key as well.

If you have been in an accident due to adverse weather conditions in Colorado, contact the experienced team at Monge & Associates for a free case review by calling (888) 477-0597 today. We have 32 offices in 19 states, including Colorado, Georgia, and Illinois. Our attorneys assist accident victims statewide and can advise you on maximizing your compensation for injuries and damages. Don’t weather the storm alone – let our lawyers protect your rights after an accident.