GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– “Pay attention”– that’s the message to drivers from Colorado State Patrol after several crashes involving state troopers and highway workers.
State troopers say too many drivers are being careless and that the number of crashes involving distracted drivers is on the rise.
State Trooper Scott Rendfrey survived one of those crashes. He was inside his patrol car investigating a crash on Highway 85 when a driver smashed into him. That force threw him into the windshield and knocked him unconscious.
“At the hospital they explained to me what happened, they showed me pictures and it was overwhelming that I was able to walk away from that,” said Rendfrey.
That same crash killed tow truck driver Martin Braden. The driver didn’t notice that the lane was closed.
Police, tow truck drivers and even Colorado Department of Transportation workers are joining forces to ask drivers to slow down, move over and stop being distracted.
“I believe it’s distracted driving… texting and driving and related to electronics because it’s such a huge issue,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief Scott Hernandez.
Englewood Police Officer Jeremy Bitner was conducting a traffic stop on South Broadway when a drunk driver struck him. Bitner did not survive.
Bitner’s Chief of Police John Collins was also struck by a drunk driver in the early 80s.
“But I think about what happened to me and what happened to Jeremy and simply a matter of inches could have changed a lot of things that happened,” said Collins.
In the past six weeks, at least seven crashes have been caused by careless or impaired drivers injured troopers across Colorado.
Since March 2013, 29 patrol cars have been struck while on the side of the road.
“Most of the time that I see out there they’re not even watching the road or where they’re going,” said Rendfrey.