GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (KDVR) — Sixteen law enforcement officers from across the state are going through special training surrounding impaired driving as new data shows Colorado reached a record number of traffic deaths.

Primary data for 2022 shows that there were 736 fatalities on Colorado roads, 37% of which involved an impaired driver. After alcohol, the Colorado Department of Transportation data shows the top drugs detected in drivers involved in deadly crashes are cannabis (26%), methamphetamine (8%), amphetamine (7%) and cocaine (5%).

“This really comes down to one thing saving lives on our roadways,” Denver Police Department Officer Kurt Barnes said. “If we can reduce the number of impaired drivers on our roadways, we can definitely make it a safer number of fatalities on our roadways.”

“Despite consistent education and various transportation options, such as ride-shares, impaired driving remains a top causal factor for fatal crashes in Colorado,” stated Col. Matthew Packard, chief of CSP. “By investing in specialized training on the behavioral and physiological detection of drug impairment, we hope to bolster law enforcement’s ability to effectively combat drug-impaired driving and ultimately save lives.”

The DRE School is a nine-day intensive training that provides law enforcement officers the knowledge, skills, and abilities to determine whether vehicle operators are impaired by one or multiple drugs. Officers also learn how to document the impairment and present a case in a courtroom setting.

On Monday, FOX31 exclusively captured a “wet lab” training in which volunteers drank alcohol to varying levels of impairment and are screened by law enforcement for a mock roadside impairment screening.

“We all need to drive home safe, so thank God they’re out there doing what they do to ensure it,” volunteer Justin Comfort said. 

You can watch the story and training footage in the player above.