Volume No. 16 Issue No. 8 August 2019  

   Colorado ranks high for road rage
  By Lindsey Harrison

     According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System on the NHTSA’s website, Colorado currently ranks No. 2 in total number of fatal accidents involving road rage and aggressive driving.
   The Colorado Springs Police Department’s Annual Statistical Report on their website indicates accidents involving aggressive driving that CSPD responded to increased from 127 total crashes in 2015 to 239 in 2016; and fell a bit to 188 in 2017.
   Lt. Jim Sokolik, public information officer with the CSPD, said tracking road rage incidents is difficult because there is no state statute that addresses the exact behavior; road rage incidents get lumped in with aggressive driving reports.
   Trooper Gary Cutler with the Colorado State Patrol’s public affairs office wrote in an email to “The New Falcon Herald” that CSP also has trouble tracking road rage incidents for the same reason. However, he wrote, “I just know we have a lot of calls each month about bad driving.”
   Those calls are made to the CSP’s Star CSP (*277) aggressive driver program launched on July 1, 1998, according to the CSP’s website. The program works with several cellular service providers to offer the phone number, free of charge, to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists who want to report aggressive driving behavior in “real time,” the website states.
   Sokolik said he always recommends that people report incidents of suspected road rage or aggressive driving because it comes down to a safety issue. “We advise people not to engage in road rage incidents,” he said. “Do not pull over and confront another driver. If someone is following you or acting in an erratic manner with their vehicle, the best idea is to move over and allow that driver to pass and then call the police department and report it. If possible, get the license plate and make of the car.”
   Jacqueline Kirby, media relations manager with the El Paso County sheriff’s office, said information is critical and can help spur an investigation into a particular driver’s behavior. “Although the sheriff’s office does not track road rage incidents because we do not respond to traffic incidents, people can still call in to us with a license plate number,” she said. “If we get repeated complaints on a specific license plate, we can run the plate and have a deputy go out to that person’s home, depending on the egregiousness of the offense.”
   It can be difficult to prove what type of behavior the other driver exhibited, which is why Kevin Campbell, a Falcon resident and business owner, said he became a dealer and installer of BlackVue dashboard cameras. He said he wants to be part of the solution rather than just complaining about the problem, and thinks dash cams could help curb road rage or aggressive driving incidents.
   Part of the problem with road rage or aggressive driving incidents is that there is often no evidence to support the claim that something unlawful took place, he said. But having video evidence that shows exactly what happened can go a long way to holding that person accountable for their actions, Campbell said.
   “The mindset of drivers is that there is no one of authority watching them,” Campbell said. “If there is a dash cam, then people will know what that person did. If you do something like flip someone off or yell at them and someone catches that on video, they can take you to court with that.”
   The goal is simply to hold people accountable for their actions, he said. The BlackVue cameras are mounted behind a vehicle’s rear view mirror and can record even when the vehicle is not in use, which becomes useful for parking lot incidents, Campbell said.
   “People have had to pay claims (on their car insurance) because there was no video evidence and they were not there to see what happened,” he said. “These cameras detect motion and impacts to the vehicle and create an ‘event’ in the files on the memory. You can look back at that file to see what happened and hopefully get a license plate number to report.”
   Sokolik said with any type of crime, if the video tape allows the police department to establish probable cause that a person has violated a state statute or Colorado law, that person can receive a ticket for their behavior.
   “We would probably need the person who took that video tape to talk to us to be part of that investigation,” he said. “We tell people not to send it out on Twitter and expect something to happen. We need to make contact with someone who witnessed that event, even if it is the person it happened to, and get their statement and explanation of what occurred.”
   Aside from offering a 15 percent discount using the promo code “80831” for the first 50 people who visit his website –- https://dashcamsofcs.com –- and make a purchase, Campbell said he is in discussions with the insurance company he works for about offering discounts on car insurance premiums for people who have dash cams installed.
   “Even the most expensive camera is likely less than your car insurance deductible,” he said. “If you are not the guilty party, you have got the evidence to prove that you are not responsible.”
   Campbell said drivers should avoid making eye contact or using rude gestures, which can escalate any situation.
   The bottom line will always be to steer clear of engaging in a road rage incident, Sokolik said. However, if someone feels like they are being threatened by another driver or are in danger, he said to call the police department and a dispatcher will usually direct that person to the nearest police substation.
   “Do not engage with someone who is obviously trying to pick a fight,” Sokolik said.
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