‘Killer 82’ alive and well
Last year’s accident statistics thoroughly discredit the idea that Highway 82 has become any safer as a four-lane road. Wrecks on the highway between Aspen and Glenwood Springs skyrocketed in 2005. There were 40 more injury accidents in 2005 than 2004, a 65 percent increase. And the overall number of accidents is up 33 percent, from 267 to 355. Three people died on Highway 82 last year, the same as in 2004.Anyone who makes the commute regularly knows that the four-lane road is in many respects more dangerous than the old two-lane highway. Snowmass Canyon is case in point. The odds of a head-on crash through the canyon have almost disappeared with the completion of the four-lane road, but it is still a treacherous stretch that a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol says is partially responsible for the spike in accidents. Along with all the problems in Snowmass Canyon, serious accidents have occurred at Brush Creek, Willits, Blue Lake/Dakota, Catherine Store and south Glenwood Springs. Accidents are a problem from one end of the highway to the other.State Patrol Capt. Richard Duran noted that since the four-laning of Highway 82 was finished in 2004, people have been driving faster. And when they drive faster, especially on icy roads, they get into more accidents.Commuters may be frustrated by the length of their daily drive, which is even longer when the weather gets bad. They may also be frustrated by the fact they’re idling unnecessarily at red lights caused by signals that malfunction after every snowstorm, and by the lack of signal synchronization in spots where it makes sense. But those frustrations are no reason to fly down the road at unsafe speeds.One way to convince people of the need to slow down is for law enforcement agencies to be more aggressive about enforcing speed limits. Police agencies throughout the valley work with the Colorado State Patrol to bust speeders as much as possible in the coming year.But the real responsibility lies with drivers. With 18 traffic signals between the city limits of Glenwood Springs and the Castle Creek bridge at the edge of Aspen checking the flow of traffic, driving at excessive speeds between stoplights doesn’t save much time. Certainly the five or so minutes saved by speeding all the way to Glenwood isn’t worth a debilitating or deadly accident.So please, slow down.
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