If it seems to you that drivers are short on patience these days, you are not alone. Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of aggressive driving behaviors and have been cut off or had someone follow you too closely. Maybe you have engaged in aggressive driving after becoming frustrated with another driver.
Aggressive driving sometimes referred to as “road rage,” is on the rise in Colorado and throughout the nation. When tempers flare on the road, everyone’s safety is threatened. Unfortunately, as aggressive driving becomes more commonplace, an increasing number of individuals are being hurt and killed.
Aggressive Driving Statistics in Colorado
According to the Colorado State Patrol, which spoke with CBS News, complaints for aggressive driving exceeded complaints for drunk drivers in 2021.
The agency received 37,769 aggressive driving complaints in 2021 and about 25,000 complaints this year. It received only approximately 31,000 complaints for impaired driving last year and about 19,000 such complaints so far this year.
Data from the state’s Department of Transportation shows that 252 individuals suffered serious injuries in road rage incidents during 2016. By 2021, the number of individuals seriously hurt by aggressive driving increased to nearly 400. Over the same time period, aggressive driving-related fatalities also increased, going from about 60 in 2016 to 108 in 2021.
Perhaps most concerning is a statewide increase in the number of shootings linked to road rage. CBS News reports that in 2016, 239 Coloradans were either hurt or killed in road rage shooting incidents. In 2021, the number of people hurt or killed in such shootings more than doubled to 522.
Colorado is currently third in the nation in rankings for the worst road rage. Nearly half of drivers — about 46 percent — reported having been insulted or threatened by another driver.
These statistical increases correspond to nationwide trends, which also show an increase in instances of road rage and the injuries and fatalities it causes.
Reasons for Road Rage Are Not Easy to Pinpoint
You may be wondering why drivers in Colorado — or anywhere in the nation — feel it is appropriate to engage in road rage and aggressive driving. Unfortunately, the answer to why road rage happens is not always clear.
Some of the most immediate causes are environmental factors, such as crowded roads and drivers who are running late. When you are trying to get to a destination and someone else is in your way, it is easy to become angry with them.
This does not explain all road rage incidents, though. The American Psychological Association believes some aggressive driving incidents are actually caused by displaced anger.
The aggressive driver may be stressed out or frustrated with a situation at work or at home. For whatever reason, the driver feels more comfortable venting that anger on the road than in those other environments.
Drugs and alcohol can also play a part in road rage. When people consume too much alcohol or too many drugs, their judgment becomes impaired. This can make them irrational and unpredictable. Some innocuous driving behavior by another driver may cause the intoxicated driver to become irate, leading to road rage.
Protecting Yourself from Road Rage
If you have been the victim of aggressive driving, you know how unsettling the experience can be. Consequences can range from a verbal tongue-lashing by the other driver to a crash that causes you injuries to a fatal shooting.
To protect yourself and your loved ones, it is critical to know how to stay safe when you encounter an aggressive driver.
Do Not Match Aggression with Aggression
You may be tempted to yell back or show your own gestures to an aggressive driver. Or you might want to give them a dirty look. This is not a good idea. Any of these actions toward an aggressive driver in the throes of road rage might anger them further. The best course of action is to not engage with them at all.
Create a Safe Distance Between Your Two Cars
If at all possible, continue to drive defensively when faced with an angry driver. Put plenty of space between your two vehicles, even if this means slowing down below the speed limit or changing lanes. In extreme cases, if you can take a detour or pull into a safe public place to allow the other driver to pass, do so.
Do Not Lose Sight of the Vehicle If You Cannot Get Away from It
If creating distance between your vehicle and the other car or truck is not possible, keep the other vehicle in sight. Watch for dangerous behaviors that could jeopardize your safety, such as sudden swerves or the driver tossing things out of their vehicle.
You will need to react quickly in these situations, so you should give that driver and their car your attention.
Report Aggressive Drivers to Law Enforcement
Not every report you make will cause police or state patrol officers to respond to your location. And obviously, if you are still driving when you report aggressive driving, it is impossible for law enforcement to pinpoint your location.
However, if you can provide a description of the vehicle and its license plate to law enforcement, they may be able to track the owner down and confront them about their aggressive driving.
Of course, if you feel an aggressive driver is following your vehicle, or if you are in a public place and an aggressive driver is threatening you, do not hesitate to contact 911 and request emergency assistance.
Injuries Caused by Aggressive Drivers Deserve Compensation
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a road rage incident and suffered harm, Mann & Maximon can assist you. Our team of dedicated Colorado injury lawyers can help you pursue a claim for damages if you incurred property damage, medical bills, or other losses. Contact our office today to learn more about our legal services.
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