(COLO) – Whether driving down a highway or on a community road, every motorist has experienced another driver making an unsafe lane change into our path or being “cut off”. Unsafe lane changes often cause an emotional reaction in the driver who was maintaining their lane position.
If you are fortunate to avoid an immediate crash, do you keep your cool to avoid a secondary one?
One of the top causal factors for injury and fatal crashes identified by the Patrol is lane violations, which have increased annually since 2019. Last year, preliminary data showed that troopers investigated 620 fatal and injury lane violation crashes (4% increase over 2022, 594 crashes). When it was possible to determine, aggressive driving was the most common human factor for these lane violations.
“There are several reasons that drivers may cut another person off. A person can be distracted, driving aggressively, or miscalculate the distance between vehicles,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “The reason really doesn’t matter. Instead of reacting, create distance and space between you and that driver. You matter more than any real or perceived affront.”
When making a lane change, drivers must wait for a gap in traffic to leave a safe distance between vehicles. Once a driver sees an opening, turn on the turn signal and check all mirrors and blind spots to move into the desired lane safely and smoothly. Unsafe or aggressive lane changes can cause crashes when another driver doesn’t have time to react.
“If someone around you cuts you off, the worst thing you can do is create a new hazard by reacting out of anger or frustration,” stated Chief Packard. “Don’t escalate the situation. It’s very possible that the initial incident was never about you and you can regain control of the situation by putting space between you and that driver.”
If you encounter an aggressive driver who is putting other motorists at risk, the aggressive driver should be avoided by getting out of the way, not making eye contact, or indicating disapproval of their driving behavior. Contact the Colorado State Patrol as soon as safely possible by pulling over and calling *CSP (*277). Be prepared to provide the following information: vehicle description, license plate number, location and direction of travel, driver description, and the aggressive driving behavior being demonstrated.
It’s up to all of us to keep our cool and steer clear of aggressive drivers.
Troopers continue to take a low-tolerance approach to the top fatal crash factors, including lane violations, impaired driving and speeding, while launching a yearlong campaign called “Drive Safe.” This campaign celebrates positive driving behaviors and encourages all of us to drive like a trooper is riding with you.
ABOUT THE COLORADO STATE PATROL
Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs. In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more.