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The Gazette to hold town hall to address Colorado Springs' increasingly dangerous roads

 Photo by Jerille Bennet/The Gazette.  Serious injury crash at W. Fillmore and N. Cascade
Photo by Jerille Bennet/The Gazette. Serious injury crash at W. Fillmore and N. Cascade (KKTV)
Published: May. 3, 2019 at 2:32 PM MDT
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In the wake of the deadliest year on Colorado Springs’ streets, 11 News partner The Gazette is hosting a town hall to hear from experts about how the community can work together to keep the city safe for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.

Last year, 48 people died in crashes across the city, surpassing the previous record of 43 set in 1986. This year appears to be on a similar pace, with 14 fatal crashes — one more than last year at this time.

KKTV anchor Don Ward will moderate a panel discussion May 6 with Police Chief Vince Niski, Sgt. Jim Stinson of the Major Crash Unit, city traffic engineer Todd Frisbie and Drive Smart Colorado Executive Director Maile Gray.

to submit questions for our panelists.

The free event will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts, 5225 N. Nevada Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m., and it is not necessary to RSVP.

Crashes often are caused by speeding, impairment or distracted driving, police say. Officials also have blamed an increasing number of crashes on roads crowded by an ever-growing population.

In Colorado Springs, 26 of last year’s fatal crashes — more than half — involved drugs or alcohol, police records show. Thirteen of the people who died were pedestrians, eight of whom were homeless.

Of the 35 people who were killed while in a car, riding a bicycle or driving a motorcycle, 16 weren’t wearing a seat belt or helmet.

This year, two pedestrians have died in crashes, in addition to 10 people in vehicles and one cyclist.

Police turned on red-light cameras this month at the eastbound approach to Platte Avenue and Chelton Road and the westbound approach at Briargate Boulevard and Lexington Drive — a move touted as a safety measure after last year’s record number of traffic fatalities.

The red-light camera program began with a 30-day grace period during which drivers were issued warnings. Beginning May 9, those caught on camera running red lights will be sent a ticket.

Across Colorado, 630 people died in crashes last year, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported. El Paso County had the most deaths, with 81, followed by 63 in Weld County and 60 in Denver County.

The Gazette’s Community Conversations are public forums convened on important issues of the day for Colorado Springs.

Past conversations have focused on issues including homelessness, affordable housing, bike lanes, marijuana and veterans health care.