We’ve all had the feeling of anxiety and urgency behind the wheel — you’re late for an appointment or you slept in too late before work. You need to get going, but the traffic in front of you isn’t moving and you can feel yourself getting more and more frustrated as time continues to fly by.
In these situations, it can be easy to rationalize a few driving moves that you’d normally never do: speeding through a yellow light, blowing off a stop sign, changing lanes quickly, or even riding the bumper of the car ahead of you. You may be making the conscious decision to drive quicker and more recklessly to make your deadline, but your actions can be just as dangerous as the actions of a driver who is impaired by alcohol or drugs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive drivers are involved in more than 65 percent of traffic fatalities, and research from AAA estimates that at least half of all car accidents between 2003 and 2007 have involved aggressive driving and behavior.
Aggressive driving is also known as road rage, and although it is caused by any number of things — running late, rushing somewhere, emotional issues or simply anger — the end result is the same. An aggressive driver acts without regard for safety and puts others on the road at risk for injury and accidents.
Aggressive driving often includes:
- Excessive honking
- Constant lane-changing, or weaving in and out of traffic
- Failure to signal a turn or lane change
- Rear-ending another vehicle
- Failure to follow posted speed limits
- Yelling or making rude gestures at other drivers
Speeding is the most common behavior shared by aggressive drivers, and according to research done by AAA, a quarter of drivers polled think that it’s okay to speed no matter what the posted signs say.
Careless Driving vs. Reckless Driving
In Colorado, drivers can be charged with careless or reckless driving, depending on the severity of their behaviors and the impact of their actions. Careless driving is considered driving without “due regard” for others on the road. Drivers who are cited for careless driving can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor in the state, and could be sentenced to up to a year in jail.
Careless driving charges may also result in fines from $250 to $1,000. If a careless driver causes an accident that results in injury or death to another driver or passenger, the charge is escalated to a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the driver could face 18 months in jail and fines from $500 to $5,000.
Reckless driving is the next step in charges for drivers who are not using proper caution behind the wheel. In Colorado, a driver who has “wanton or willful disregard” for the safety of other people and property can be charged with reckless driving, which is a Class 2 misdemeanor with penalties of a year in jail. If a driver has been charged with reckless driving more than once, he or she can be sentenced to no less than 10 days behind bars and must pay at least $50 in fines.
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s aggressive driving, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages to your person and your vehicle. For more information on aggressive driving and Colorado laws, contact a Denver auto accident lawyer at Levine Law today.