Colorado Road Rage Accidents Are on the Rise
Colorado law enforcement officers are warning of a dangerous spike in road rage incidents across metro Denver and throughout the state.
“What we’re seeing is people are more willing to use violence against somebody else,” Aurora Police Division Chief Jad Lanigan recently told CBS Colorado. “We’re seeing younger and younger suspects committing crimes these days.”
In June, for example, a 47-year-old man was reportedly shot and killed by a teenager after getting out of his vehicle to confront a reckless driver in Aurora. Weeks later, a 24-year-old man was arrested and charged with killing two people on Interstate 25 in Denver.
Nearly 32,000 incidents of road rage were reported statewide last year, according to data compiled by Colorado State Patrol. That is up about 5 percent from a year earlier, the CSP figures show.
El Paso County saw the highest number of reported road rage incidents (1,708) last year, followed by Jefferson (1,393) and Douglas (769). Weld (759) and Fremont (732) were also in the Top Five.
“You could ruin everyone’s life by taking this way too far,” CSP Master Trooper Gary Cutler told KKTV. “You could still lose your driver’s license over this thing. Judges are taking a poor look at this when you come into court and you are there because you tried to run someone off the road.”
Aggressive Driving Turns Deadly
The CSP data includes reports of behavior ranging from honking to speeding and driving others off of roads.
Some aggressive behavior is more common than others. The American Automobile Association in a recent study concluded that drivers most frequently engaged in these aggressive driving tactics:
- Driving 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (48%)
- Following vehicles too closely to prevent others from merging (34%)
- Honking, making rude gestures at other drivers (32%)
- Running a red light (31%)
- Merging into traffic even when another driver tries to close the gap between vehicles (28%)
- Switching lanes quickly or very close behind another car (26%)
- Speeding up when another car tries to overtake (25%)
- Passing in front of another vehicle at less than car length (22%)
Aggressive driving also happens to be shockingly common.
The AAA study found that 80 percent of drivers had experienced significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the previous month.
The tragic killings in Colorado and similar incidents elsewhere are unfortunate examples of just how far things can escalate.
More than 550 people were shot in road rage incidents across the country last year, according to data from gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. That amounts to one road rage shooting incident every 16 hours.
The number of road rage shootings has doubled in just the last five years. Everytown blames a confluence of factors for the spike.
“We do not definitively know what is driving this persistent increase in road rage shootings,” the group said.
“The pandemic and its continuing effects have brought all kinds of new stressors into people’s lives,” Everytown added. “In addition, the record increases in gun sales that started in 2020 could be a factor.”
What to Do When Faced With Road Rage
One challenge when it comes to aggressive driving is that road rage can ramp up quickly. It is vital, therefore, for anyone who finds themselves in a road rage situation to take steps to try to de-escalate the situation.
Drivers should maintain their space from an aggressive motorist. They can also reduce speeds so that the aggressive driver is likely to move on. They should not under any circumstances make eye contact with an aggressive driver or respond with similarly aggressive moves or rude gestures.
If the situation escalates or shows no signs of ending, call 911 or drive to a public space like a police or fire station. Make sure that your doors are locked if you stop your vehicle.
Legal Rights for People Injured in Aggressive Driving Accidents
The risk of an accident is part of life on the road in Colorado and across the country. Aggressive driving and road rage increase that risk significantly, leading to crashes and other incidents that can result in serious and even life-threatening injuries.
The compensation typically available in Colorado car accident cases is designed to put an injured person back in the financial position that he or she was in prior to the crash. It includes money for medical bills, property damage, missed wages during recuperation, as well as for the long-term impact of the injuries.
That includes negligent drivers – as well as their insurers and even their employers, in some cases – who are often to blame for car accidents.
Drivers in Colorado have a “duty of care” to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. That means maintaining safe speeds and complying with traffic laws. It also means refraining from dangerous behavior like drinking and driving, fiddling with GPS controls or texting behind the wheel. A driver that does not live up to this responsibility is likely to be liable for any accidents that happen as a result.
Other parties, like defective vehicle and parts makers or construction crews that leave roads in dangerous conditions, may also be liable, depending on the situation. An experienced Denver car accident lawyer at our firm can help you identify those responsible and maximize your monetary recovery.
Speak with a Denver Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a road rage or other crash in Colorado, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you take action. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.
We are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer.