In 2018, one of the prevalent issues in Pueblo West was the effects of unsafe driving.

Seven traffic fatalities occurred in the Pueblo West area in 2018 in addition to many other non-fatal accidents, and it has emerged as somewhat of a trend in the community.

In unincorporated Pueblo County as a whole, ten traffic fatalities occurred this year and Pueblo West's seven fatalities in 2018 were the community's most since eight traffic deaths in 2012.

David Lucero, the law enforcement bureau chief of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, said many of the fatal accidents this year had a few common factors.

"What we're seeing is excessive speed, sometimes the use of alcohol and/or drugs, and of the 10 fatal accidents throughout the county, none of them were wearing seat belts," Lucero said.

To prevent these types of accidents, education is main focus, Lucero said. Much of that centers on efforts to increase seat belt usage, like the "Click It or Ticket" campaign. It's the first place to start, he said, considering that each accident lacked a seat belt.

"We do the Click it or Ticket campaign with the Colorado State Patrol," Lucero said, "because it greatly reduces the outcome if you are involved in a crash."

In Pueblo West in particular, without many speed bumps in the community's long, winding streets, speeding is another main concern.

"Our number-one citation is for speeding," Lucero said. "We do aggressive enforcement on speeding, and we do traffic missions."

Lucero said speed concerns are reliant upon the reports of citizens. If one sees speeding in their neighborhood, they're encouraged to report it.

"When we get complaints of a specific area," Lucero said, "we study that area first, sometimes put in a traffic counter or a speed trailer to see if there is an actual issue going."

The highest instances of speeding takes place on North Purcell Blvd., Lucero said, as drivers sometimes treat the roadway as if it were a highway, and Sheriff's address the roadway often.

Arguably, the approach has worked, as none of the traffic fatalities in 2018 took place along the North Purcell corridor.

"During the morning and evening commutes, it's easier to leave Pueblo West through the north and we run several traffic missions up there," Lucero said. "We issue citations and try to get people to slow down. It's not a raceway, and speed limits are posted for a reason."

Addressing these issues from a law enforcement side are only effective if the community takes part, as well.

"We hope to gain voluntary compliance from the community," Lucero said, "and if they're not cooperative, we use citations to gain their compliance."

asandstrom@chieftain.com