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DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Department of Transportation said 2022 recorded the highest number of deaths on state roads following a previous record-high year.

In a news release about impaired driving, CDOT said preliminary data shows a new record high was set last year with 736 deaths, 37% of which involved an impaired driver.

Alcohol was the number one cause of impaired driving fatalities with cannabis coming in second at 26%. Methamphetamine (8%), amphetamine (7%) and cocaine (5%) were the other substances detected in driving-related deaths involving impairment.

CDOT reported 672 people were killed on Colorado roadways in 2021 which was the most deaths since 2002.

In order to reduce impaired-driver-related crashes and prevent future deaths, CDOT is conducting a training program called Drug Recognition Expert to teach officers, deputies and troopers how to detect if a driver is impaired.

“Drugs, alcohol or any combination of the two is a recipe for disaster and our law enforcement on the road need the skills to identify who is and isn’t impaired,” CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk said. “Through advanced training, our ability to identify impairment has increased dramatically from 20 years ago.”

What is DRE and which departments will be involved?

The goal is to give law enforcement officers the knowledge, skills and abilities to detect impairment of one or more drugs during the nine-day session.

“There are so many variables involved with impairment from one or multiple drugs — DRE certification is an advanced level training,” Glenn Davis of the CDOT Highway Safety Office said. “All officers initially get some basic impairment investigation training. Many more with an interest in traffic safety move on to Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement training or ARIDE, which is a prerequisite for becoming a DRE.”

The training, which is happening Jan. 9 – 20, will include several different departments from around the state including:

  • Alamosa Police Department
  • Arvada Police Department
  • Bent County Sheriff’s Office
  • Carbondale Police Department
  • Fountain Police Department
  • Fort Collins Police Department
  • Glendale Police Department
  • Mesa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Monument Police Department
  • Pueblo Police Department

In addition to the local law enforcement agencies, the Colorado State Patrol will be in attendance as well. The Colorado Springs, Florence, Fruita, Glenwood, Larimer and Pueblo branches are scheduled to participate.

The program trains police how to identify central nervous system depressants and stimulants, hallucinogens, dissociative anesthetics, narcotic analgesics, inhalants and cannabis.