You see the drive-through lines every morning at Dutch Bros, Starbucks, Ziggi’s and anywhere else that lets Colorado commuters grab a cup of caffeine without getting out of the car.

With coffee in hand, easing into work seems so much smoother.

Except when it’s not.

And that’s what the Colorado State Patrol found when looking at Colorado crash data trends from 2021 to 2023.

Driving with coffee might not cause as many deaths as drunken driving, but it likely contributes to the rise in distracted driving crashes, the state patrol suggests.

The data show two key traffic accident trends:

  • Inattentive driving crashes are consistent Monday through Friday and fall over the weekend.
  • Most distracted driving crashes happen during morning and afternoon commuting rush hours.

“Driving time, especially on daily or frequently traveled routes, lends itself to the temptation of distraction,” Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said in a CSP update. “Commutes can be long, and people have many tasks on their plate, which can cause some drivers to make a poor choice to take that time back by texting a friend, eating a meal while driving, or other non-driving activities. Driving needs to be the sole focus, even when a route is routine.”

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No, it isn’t just the coffee. As a longtime commuter, I’ve seen it all: eating, drinking, texting, applying makeup, shaving, and even teeth brushing (how did I see the man doing this so often on Colorado 119?).

Colorado State Patrol troopers cited 15,553 drivers last year for distracted driving.

Top 5 Causes of Auto Accidents in Colorado

According to the Colorado State Patrol, in 2023, these were the top causes of fatal and injury car crashes in Colorado. 

The total does not add up to 100 percent, as other varieties of car wreck causes in Colorado combined for a total of 32.03 percent of injury and deadly accidents.

Gallery Credit: Christine Kapperman

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