Keep Your Cool If You Get Cut Off

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(COLO) – We may not want to admit it, but most drivers will cut someone off at some point in their driving history. The opposite is also true; we will experience another motorist making an unsafe lane change into our path. If you are fortunate to avoid an immediate crash, do you keep your cool to avoid a secondary one?

Unsafe lane changes often cause an aggressive reaction in the other driver. One of the top causal factors for injury and fatal crashes across the state is lane violations, which have increased annually since 2019. Last year, there were 594 fatal and injury lane violation crashes investigated by troopers; the second most common human factor for these lane violations was aggressive driving.

“There are several reasons that drivers may cut another person off. A person can be distracted, driving aggressively, forget to use their signal to alert the other driver or miscalculate the distance between vehicles,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Unsafe or aggressive lane changes can cause crashes when another driver doesn’t have time to react.”  

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, he should turn on his turn signal and check all mirrors and blind spots to be sure he can move safely and smoothly into the desired lane. Once in the lane, he can turn off his turn signal.

“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. “Emotions can quickly escalate when the reality is that the initial incident was never about you. It may have been accidental or selfish on the other driver’s part; either way, 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 CSP as soon as safely possible by calling *CSP (*277) and 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, while launching a yearlong campaign called “Drive Safe.” This campaign reminds people to control their lane position based on their current driving environment.


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.