Craig briefs: Rally for coal to be held 5:30 p.m. today at MCHS | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig briefs: Rally for coal to be held 5:30 p.m. today at MCHS

— A rally for Colowyo Coal Company and Trapper Mine's comment period will take place 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at Moffat County High School. The public is encouraged to attend. The two mines are seeking permits for current and future mining operations and need your support during the national "Keep Coal in the Ground" campaign. For more information, visit supportnorthwestcolorado.com.

Gas prices continue to decline statewide

Average retail gasoline prices in Colorado have fallen 4.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.74 per gallon Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 2,158 gas outlets in Colorado. That compares with the national average that has fallen 6.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $1.82 per gallon, according to gasoline price website gasbuddy.com.

Prices yesterday were 13.5 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 11.9 cents per gallon lower than one month ago. The national average has decreased 17.5 cents per gallon during the last month and is 20.0 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

Colorado traffic fatalities increase to 545 in 2015

Preliminary data from the Colorado Department of Transportation indicates traffic fatalities rose by 10 percent in 2015. In 2015, there were 545 traffic fatalities in Colorado, compared to the 488 fatalities in 2014. 

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"Every fatality is one too many, which is why we are doubling down on our traffic safety outreach in 2016," Shailen Bhatt, CDOT executive director, said in a statement. "For example, we know that at least 60 lives could be saved if everyone wore their seat belts. Therefore, we will be doing additional outreach to increase the seat belt usage in Colorado."  

Unbelted drivers are over-represented in the fatality data and accounted for nearly half of the fatalities in 2015. The data also indicated motorcycle fatalities hit an all-time record high of 104 deaths. CDOT will spend $300,000 in FY2016 on  motorcycle safety campaigns targeting both drivers and motorcycle riders.

The last time fatalities numbered more than 500 was in 2008, when 548 deaths were recorded. 

With 3.8 million licensed drivers in Colorado, there is a 1 in 7,000 chance a driver will be among the fatalities in 2016 if current trends continue, CDOT said. A majority of fatalities are due to risky behaviors, such as not using a seat belt, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, speeding, driving impaired or driving distracted.

"There are several possible reasons for the uptick, such as people are driving more due to low gas prices. Whatever the reason, the new data is troubling and represents a call to action for all our traffic safety partners in Colorado," said Bhatt.

"Fatal crashes are a tragic ending for hundreds of people in Colorado each year," Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, said in a statement. "These crashes are absolutely preventable. We encourage drivers to make good decisions and avoid distractions while driving. Kick off the new year by buckling up, dropping the distractions, and focusing on driving."