El Paso County has the dubious distinction of having the deadliest stretch of I-25 during a 5-year period. That's according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Between 1998 and 2002, 69 people died on the 47-mile stretch through El Paso County. Of those, 26 fatalities happened because someone was driving the wrong way or crossed the median into oncoming traffic.
Experts say there are a number of reasons why this stretch is so dangerous. They point to heavy traffic along this particular stretch of the highway, along with distracted drivers and bad driving habits.
It's a tragedy State Patrol troopers see all too often along this stretch of the interstate---deadly car accidents. Sgt. Rob Wilson says he's not surprised by the news that more fatal accidents have happened in the El Paso County stretch, than any other part of I-25. "There's a huge amount of traffic that goes up and down that road. When you put that many people together in such a small space, a lot of things are going to happen."
Colorado State Patrol Crash Summary Reports from 1998 to 2003 indicate that inattentive driving, exceeding safe speeds and following too closely are three of the top causes of accidents along I-25.
During the reporting period, 26 of the 69 deaths occurred because one car ended up on the wrong side of the road. However, not all 26 were driving the wrong way. They could have lost control and ended up across the highway. The computer program doesn't differentiate. “What we saw was a number of crossover accidents. So we decided to go ahead and put in a median guard rail barrier so that we wouldn't have those crossovers," says James Flohr, an engineer for CDOT.
Barriers in the medians now run north of Colorado Springs to Monument. But it's not a permanent solution. Flohr believes only more lanes will cut down on accidents. "That entire corridor from Cimarron to Woodmen---We'd like to be able to bring it up to 3 lanes in central Colorado Springs."
A statistic that surprised Sgt. Wilson---alcohol did not score as a one of the top three contributing factors from 1998 through last year.