"This year's spike in auto-pedestrian collisions is deadly serious, Denver police say, regardless of whether it's a statistical anomaly or an early sign of a long-term problem.
Denver's auto-pedestrian accidents were up 46 percent for the first eight weeks of 2013 over the previous two years. Another grim statistic also stands out: Last year, the city had 13 hit-and-run fatalities, more than the previous three years combined.
"It's not just a police problem; it's a city problem," said Lt. Matt Murray, chief of staff to Denver Police Chief Robert White. "And the city has to work on a solution."
Murray said the city is working on a public education campaign, "but we're getting to a point where we're going to have to take action on enforcement."
When drugs and alcohol aren't involved, collisions are often caused by distractions — signs, people, bright sunshine — and the popularity of smartphones doesn't help, several experts said.
"We have more distracted walkers and drivers checking their text messages and e-mails, and people are just not paying attention," said Lt. Robert Rock, Denver's head traffic investigator."