Whether the driver is late, in a hurry, distracted by emotions, or just in a bad mood, AAA has estimated that 56 percent of the automobile accidents occurring between 2003 and 2007 involved aggressive driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving is a factor in up to 66 percent of traffic fatalities.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
According to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association (RMIIA), aggressive driving, commonly referred to as road rage, is any driving behavior that places another person or property in danger willfully and without regard to safety.
Aggressive driving can range from risky behavior to serious violence, and may include:
- Honking the horn excessively
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Failure to signal a lane change
- Making rude gestures
- Bumping other vehicles at intersections
These actions may easily distract a driver’s attention and cause them to drive in a way that can lead to an accident. Data compiled by AAA indicates that speeding is one of the most common aggressive behaviors, and a quarter of drivers say they consider speeding to be acceptable.
Currently, 15 states have laws that criminalize aggressive driving. Although Colorado does not have a statute that specifically addresses aggressive driving, both careless driving and reckless driving are criminal offenses in the state. Colorado legislators considered and rejected several pieces of aggressive driving legislation during the 2001 legislative session but some communities have adopted special ordinances that specifically target aggressive driving.
Careless Driving in Colorado
A Colorado driving can be charged with careless driving if he drives in a careless manner “without due regard” while traveling on the roadways. Careless driving is typically charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado, and is punishable by up to one year in jail, as well as fines ranging from $250 to $1,000.
However, if while driving carelessly, a driving causes an accident that results in body injury or death to another person, the charge is elevated to a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and fines of $500 up to $5,000.
Reckless Driving in Colorado
In Colorado, reckless driving is a slightly more serious offense than careless driving. Motorists may be charged with reckless driving in Colorado if they drive in a manner that indicates “wanton or willful disregard” for the safety of other people and property.
Reckless driving is usually considered a Class 2 misdemeanor in the state, punishable by up to one year in jail. If a motorist is convicted of reckless driving twice, he will serve no less than 10 days in jail and pay a minimum fine of $50.
Survey: Reckless Driving Increases During Winter Holidays
State Farm and KRC Research conducted an online survey of 1,000 U.S. drivers over the age of 18 and found that nearly two out of three, or 64 percent, of U.S. drivers have experienced aggressive driving from another driver six or more times in the past three months, and nearly one-third of those surveyed said their likelihood of driving aggressively increases during the winter holiday season.