DENVER (KDVR) — In Colorado, transportation and law enforcement agencies are urging drivers to be safer on the roads.

Officials with the Colorado Department of Transportation said early data shows the number of people who died in traffic crashes last year in Colorado — 745 — was the highest the state has seen in more than 40 years.

“These are loved ones, these are friends, these are neighbors, these are family members, cousins and aunts and sons and daughters and members of our community. With a number that large, that staggering, it’s impossible to think of a community that hasn’t been affected by one of these crashes,” Colorado State Patrol Col. Matthew Packard said.

Impaired driving crashes see 7% rise in Colorado

Packard said these preliminary numbers show drivers need to make better decisions about getting behind the wheel after taking substances.

“The one that continues to boggle my mind, we can read headlines from this weekend about impaired drivers causing fatal crashes. In fact, the patrol alone saw a 7% increase in impaired driving-caused fatalities in 2022 compared to 2021,” Packard said.

Packard does not just want drivers to think about alcohol when it comes to impaired driving. He said CSP alone saw a 51% increase in crashes related to cannabis use.

More pedestrians at fault in Colorado crashes

The agencies also cautioned against distracted driving and looking out for pedestrians.

“Over 50 pedestrian deaths last year. And one of the interesting things is, I think a lot of times, we contribute the driver behavior as to being a factor. We’ve actually seen an increase in pedestrians at fault in these crashes, whether it’s crossing the road in unlit or otherwise unsafe situations or going against the traffic signals. All of those things are there for your safety,” Packard said.

As a result of the uptick, CDOT and its partners will implement an Advancing Transportation Safety plan.

The plan focuses on keeping roads, drivers and people safe while also supporting communities after a crash.