Driving safety in rural areas

Published: Jun. 21, 2021 at 7:50 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - Some people do not concentrate on their driving safety as much when they are in rural areas. But with Country Jam coming up in just a few days, local law enforcement agencies want to remind the public that driving safety is just as important in those remote areas.

Colorado State Patrol sees a lot of crashes in rural areas over the summer. With Country Jam coming up and more activity to lakes and campsites over the summer, Colorado State Patrol sees an increase in crashes in those remote areas.

“There has been an increase in rural areas in the summertime just because of that increased traffic to either highline, corn lake, or recreational areas that people are headed to,” said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Matthew Coonts.

On the highway or on active city streets, drivers are more on the defensive. But in the farmland areas, which is where Country Jam Ranch is located, the brain isn’t on alert in the same way.

“What we see out in the rural areas is people a little more on autopilot cuz there isn’t as much to distract them on those back county roads,” said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Patrick Rice. “So we see more serious injury crashes cuz the speeds are higher and people aren’t as prepared to respond.”

Even though the threat of crashing into another car is minimal, other threats are just as important to watch out for. Such as a wild animal darting into the road.

“In the rural areas most people assume there’s less traffic so they can maybe bring it up a notch on the speed because they don’t anticipate any traffic jams or anything like that,” said Trooper Coonts. “But there are wild animals, tame animals on the roadway and cows.”

“We all have dozens of stories of crashes on rural roads with cows, dogs, different livestock, or deer,” said Trooper Rice. “Or people who just fall asleep and they drive off into the ditch or into the field.”

CSP urges all Country Jam attendees to either make plans ahead of time to get home. Whether that’s arranging an Uber, making sure your party has a designated driver, or just staying at the on site campground.

“One thing that we look for, particularly during Country Jam is of course everyone is used to seeing us enforcing right around the Country Jam Ranch,” said Trooper Rice. “But we also are aware that people are getting dropped off other places. The community rides is taking people to different places in town and dropping them off. And historically we’ve had a lot of crashes even in the Clifton end of town from people coming from Country Jam.”

Another tip CSP gave for Country Jam is to take the high temperatures into consideration when monitoring alcohol levels. As the heat will affect you faster when consuming alcohol, and drink water to stay hydrated in between drinks.

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