When winter weather hits Denver, it may hit very hard. Snow can accumulate overnight and leave certain roads all but impassible. Ice can develop even when there isn’t major snowfall and make it harder for people to drive safely. Locals and tourists alike may struggle to safely navigate surface streets and highways during heavy snowfall, after temperatures drop significantly and when precipitation accumulates on road surfaces. The winter months often see some of the worst crashes in the Denver area, including multi-vehicle collisions.
Although wrecks can technically happen anywhere, some areas are more likely than others to be where a potentially life-altering winter crash occurs. A review of collision data in the Denver metropolitan area can yield valuable information about where risk is highest. What streets tend to see the most winter crashes?
Interstates and highways are the most dangerous
Interstate 70 often sees a large number of crashes when the weather turns bad. Particularly when the pavement is wet or icy, the risk of collisions on I-70 may be higher than usual. According to the recently-published Vision Zero map looking at crash rates on dangerous roads in the Denver area, many of the main arteries through the city are where the most crashes occur, including during inclement winter weather.
Interstate 25 sometimes sees serious collisions, including multi-vehicle collisions. I-76, I-270, U.S. 34, U.S. 85 and U.S. 36 also see a disproportionate number of wrecks. Some of these crashes have tragic outcomes due to high speeds and the involvement of multiple vehicles.
Higher speed limits and heavier traffic density both contribute to the likelihood of serious winter wrecks on these interstates and highways. Drivers traveling at higher speeds may feel confident that they are perfectly safe until they need to suddenly maneuver or stop their vehicles. They can then lose control, possibly causing a crash that affects multiple other vehicles nearby.
Clearly, Denver drivers cannot simply avoid highways when winter weather strikes. However, they can choose to drive a bit more slowly because of weather conditions and to monitor the behaviors of others more carefully. Identifying locations where crash risk is higher during winter weather may help Denver drivers stay safer during the coldest part of the year.