COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- With speeding-related traffic fatalities rising across Colorado and in El Paso County, authorities are getting creative in their message to convince drivers to slow down.
New public service announcements include monsters and alien spaceships to explain that if drivers aren't being chased by them, there's no reason to exceed the speed limit.
According to a release from state and local authorities Tuesday, In 2020 -- the most recent year in which data is available -- Colorado had 287 speeding related deaths -- a 20% increase from 2019.
El Paso County had 40 such fatalities in 2020, a 43% increase from 2019.
Authorities said that the number of speeding crashes likely decreased in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic but could trend upward this year.
Across the state, authorities said that nearly 80% of people killed in speeding crashes happened either on rural roads or on interstate highways through cities.
To raise awareness of the issue, a news conference was held Tuesday at the Colorado Springs Police Operations Center, involving the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Springs Police Department and El Paso County Sheriff.
"We believe that the need to be fresh, keep coming up with fresh ideas... everything may not be a hard enforcement idea, maybe some humor in it," said Glenn Davis, CDOT's highway safety manager. "But the message is still, there's just no excuse to speed. And it's to get the attention of the drivers who may be thinking of an excuse."
Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the State Patrol, said that the high number of speeding deaths is a major safety issue.
"A lot of them happen because drivers aren't alert, are not paying attention or are distracted," he said. "That's something we can control. If we can get people to realize that, we'd significantly reduce those deaths. Today, as I was traveling here from Denver, I was passed by the driver of a pickup truck going 100 mph and driving unsafely."
Surprisingly, Packard said that he let the driver go.
"I decided that it was better for me to get here on time so that more people could hear our message and possibly save lives," he explained.
For hard-core speeders driving more than 20 miles above the speed limit and those who simply don't care about the possible consequences, authorities said that stronger enforcement is the solution.
"We have a new sergeant who recently transferred to the traffic unit," said county Undersheriff Joe Roybal. "He's going to be doing a study identifying needs for the county, and making recommendations as far as increasing resources. But all of our deputies are watching for speeders."
Newly-appointed police Chief Adrian Vasquez said that his department receives grants that pay overtime for officers on traffic enforcement.
"We're going to working with police and deputies here on several occasions to do targeted enforcement," Packard said. "In specific areas where speeding is common."