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Colorado Pedestrian Deaths Hit All-Time High

October 5, 2023 | 5 min read

Colorado pedestrian deaths are on the rise, reaching levels never witnessed before in the state’s history. This startling increase prompts an urgent need for discussion and action. Pedestrian safety has always been a concern for any bustling city, and Denver is no exception. However, recent data indicates a worrying trend.

Pedestrian deaths are tragic and preventable. Learn the causes of many pedestrian accidents, what Denver is doing to reduce pedestrian deaths, how you can take precautions, and what legal recourse there is for families of the victims.

If you have been injured or a loved one has been lost in a Colorado pedestrian accident, call Burg Simpson at 303-792-5595 for a FREE and confidential case evaluation. Allow our pedestrian accident lawyers to support and guide your family through this difficult time.

The Startling Statistics on Pedestrian Deaths

In 2022, the number of Denver pedestrian deaths saw an unprecedented surge. There were 111 tragic fatalities, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, making up 15% of all traffic deaths that year. That is more than double the lives lost ten years earlier in 2013 and an 18% increase from 2021.

This year is looking to continue along the same lines. As of the end of June 2023, there were 51 pedestrian deaths in Colorado. That is a 14% increase from this time in 2022. Denver County had the most pedestrian losses in that period, with 9 fatalities.

Unfortunately, a pedestrian is no match for a car in an accident. Though the accident itself could be the result of negligence on the part of either party, it is the walking person who is unprotected from harm and, therefore, suffers the most severe injuries.

The escalation in Colorado pedestrian deaths has been attributed to several factors. Regardless of the reasons, it is clear that the streets of Denver are becoming increasingly perilous for pedestrians.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

To remedy the issue of Colorado pedestrian deaths, we first need to understand the contributing factors. The most common causes of accidents involving pedestrians include:

Distracted Driving

Modern life brings numerous distractions, especially with the advent of smartphones. A quick glance at a message or a brief scroll through social media while behind the wheel can have devastating consequences.


Denver’s rapid growth has led to a greater strain on its infrastructure. Existing roads, intersections, and crossings may not be adequate for the increasing number of vehicles and pedestrians.

Many areas in Denver lack proper crosswalks, lighting, or pedestrian signals. This forces individuals to risk crossing at non-designated areas, making them vulnerable to fast-moving traffic.

Impaired Driving

Despite stringent DUI laws in Colorado, incidents related to alcohol and drug impairment continue to plague Denver’s roads. C.R.S. § 42-4-1301 states that it is unlawful for a person to drive under the influence. Yet, these violations persist, endangering pedestrian lives.


Residential and urban areas often see drivers pushing past speed limits. Speed reduces a driver’s reaction time, making it difficult to prevent a collision if a pedestrian suddenly enters their path. In addition, the faster a vehicle is traveling when it strikes a pedestrian, the higher the risk of a fatality. The risk increases from 10% at 23 mph to 90% at 58 mph, per the Governors Highway Safety Association.

What Is Being Done?

Beyond the heart-wrenching loss of life, the surge in Denver pedestrian deaths has broader implications for the community. Families are left grieving, neighborhoods are in shock, and a sense of insecurity can pervade areas with high incident rates.

Denver’s local government, aware of this alarming trend, has initiated several programs and projects aimed at pedestrian safety:

  • Vision Zero Denver: This city initiative focuses on ensuring safer streets for Denver’s residents. Its primary goal is to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries on Denver’s roads by 2030.
  • Improving Infrastructure: Recognizing the issues with current infrastructure, Denver’s city planners are working on redesigning problematic areas, incorporating better crosswalks, clearer signage, and updated traffic signals.
  • Speed Limit Reduction: The City and County of Denver has changed the default speed limit to 20 mph, per city ordinance § 54-157. According to research for Denver’s Vision Zero Action Plan, 9 out of 10 people hit by a car traveling at 20 mph will survive. Reducing the speed limits in areas frequented by pedestrians will help to save lives.

How Can You Reduce Colorado Pedestrian Deaths?

While city officials, law enforcement, and local statutes play a significant role, individuals must also take responsibility for pedestrian safety. Some helpful steps for pedestrians to protect themselves include:

  • Stay Vigilant: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at intersections or when crossing the street.
  • Use Designated Crossings: Whenever possible, use marked crosswalks and pedestrian bridges. Even if it means walking a little extra—your safety is worth it.
  • Avoid Distractions: Avoid using headphones or focusing excessively on your phone when walking, especially in busy areas.
  • Be Visible: If walking at night, wear light-colored or reflective clothing. This increases the chances of drivers spotting you.
  • Use Sidewalks: Whenever possible, use sidewalks—the chances of an accident rise when there is no sidewalk present.
  • Avoid Alcohol & Drugs: Alcohol and drug use can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Try to avoid intoxication while walking.

Legal Recourse for Victims’ Families

Pedestrian deaths are devastating for the victim’s families. When reeling over the loss of a loved one, it is essential to know that you have rights. Colorado law offers protection and legal recourse for those affected by pedestrian fatalities.

If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of a loved one’s earnings & services
  • Funeral & burial expenses
  • Pain & suffering
  • Loss of companionship

Whereas the statute of limitations for bodily injury related to a car accident is 3 years, per C.R.S. § 13-80-101(1)(n)(Ⅰ), it is 2 years in cases of wrongful death (§ 13-80-102(1)(d)). However, this limit becomes 4 years if it was a hit-and-run accident (§ 13-80-102(2)). Given the complexities of such cases, seeking advice from experienced pedestrian accident lawyers, like the dedicated team at Burg Simpson, can be invaluable.

Contact a Colorado Pedestrian Accident Attorney Today

The unsettling rise in Colorado pedestrian deaths highlights an urgent need for change. While initiatives are in place to address the issue, it is a combined community effort that will bring about lasting change. Each of us has a role to play, from being more attentive when walking and driving to supporting local safety initiatives. Together, we can hope for a future where Colorado’s streets are safe for all.

If your loved one was killed in a pedestrian accident, you are probably overwhelmed by your tragic loss. The last thing you want is to have to deal with the financial and legal ramifications of your family member’s untimely passing as well. Let Burg Simpson’s pedestrian accident attorneys fight for your rights and handle the legal ins and outs of your wrongful death claim.

Contact us today for a FREE and confidential case evaluation. Our team of pedestrian accident lawyers are here to guide, advocate, and seek justice for you. We use our local know-how and national resources to pursue compensation for your terrible loss. We are proud to serve clients in Denver and throughout Colorado.