As we approach the winter months when driving is often more of a challenge, Colorado Springs drivers really need a reality check and a reminder of their personal community responsibilities.
The city has always had its share of bad drivers. Many longtime residents will remember the bumper stickers that said “Pray for me, I drive Academy.” One Springs resident, George Whitesell, even wrote a song, “Pray for Me (I Drive Academy)” in 1983 about what was then the city’s most treacherous thoroughfare. If it was bad then, it is even more dangerous to be on our roads now.
An increase in traffic volume, higher speeds and other factors — such as texting while driving — have exacerbated the problem. Driving some Colorado Springs’ streets is like navigating a dangerous gauntlet filled with drivers who are distracted, speeding, intoxicated or simply hostile and angry. It’s no secret that many drivers view yellow lights as a signal to speed through intersections. We change lanes without considering using our blinkers, and we tailgate other drivers without giving it a second thought. Most drivers here exceed the speed limit by 5-10 mph daily. Simply put, our streets are full of mayhem.
Traffic accidents and fatalities are in the news daily. A horrendous crash last week southeast of downtown Colorado Springs was the 45th of 46 traffic fatalities in what has become an unprecedented year on city roads. We’ve surpassed the record, set in 1986, and there’s almost two months left in the year. Four cyclists and 12 pedestrians have been killed on city streets.
This week, city officials decided to reduce the speed limit on South Academy Boulevard between Pikes Peak Avenue and Milton E. Proby Parkway from 50 mph to 45 after three people died crossing Academy at Astrozon Boulevard since Oct. 23. They are reducing speed limits on three other major streets.
The city is employing the tools that they have to address the problems. Colorado Springs police have announced that they will be more strictly enforcing speeding and other dangerous driving laws throughout the city. Red-light cameras are scheduled to be installed at several intersections.
So what can the average driver do? Our responsibility is to obey the law. Slow down, buckle up and put down the cellphones. Driving is literally a life and death activity. We must have a healthy respect for the reality of hurtling along at 50-60 mph in a destructible piece of aluminum, plastic and glass. Let’s not make “Pray for me, I drive in Colorado Springs” a thing again.