Crashes occurred in all seasons, at various locations

One woman rolled her car after wine tasting. A man, high on a cocktail of methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs rode his bicycle in a crosswalk against the light. Another man took a fatal risk driving his motorcycle on the right-hand shoulder, trying to pass another vehicle.

These snapshots represent the last actions by three of the 10 people who died in fatal car crashes in Grand Junction last year.

Though 2015 was the deadliest year on record in recent history when 14 people died in car crashes, 2018 marks the city's second deadliest year for fatal car crashes since 2000.

"Drugs and alcohol is huge," Grand Junction Police Department officer John Ferguson said about one of the factors. Ferguson has been investigating crashes in Grand Junction and previously as a cop in Vail for about 25 years. The motor officer investigates all fatal accidents in the city, along with patrol duties.

"It's unfortunate," he said when people mix substance use with driving. "It's just so typical."

As far as trends go, there's little rhyme or reason to last year's crashes.

Fatal crashes in Grand Junction occurred in all four seasons, at all times of day and at various locations around the city. In most of the 2018 cases, the crash victims were the at-fault drivers, according to a review of crash reports. Nearly all cases listed drugs and alcohol as a contributing factor, but three cases still have pending toxicology reports.

Ferguson said there appears to be more traffic on the roads lately as more people move to Grand Junction — which may contribute to an increase in fatal crashes.

Grand Junction's population grew by about 20,000 people — from about 42,000 to about 62,000 — between 2000 to 2017, according to U.S. Census data.

"As our economy gets better more people are moving here," Ferguson said.

A focus on traffic issues may help officers locate DUI drivers before crashes occur. The Police Department's traffic team was disbanded because of limited personnel in 2012, and that unit hasn't been revived.

There is one thread common among all fatal crashes, Ferguson said, in that they are all preventable.

"We don't use the word accident," he said.

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