By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – In recent years, Colorado has been one of the leading states in road rage-related deaths. This week there was a case where a driver was critically hurt during a road rage incident in Aurora. Many drivers are getting back to their normal commutes they abandoned during the pandemic, but some are leaving their patience at home.

“We’ve heard all kinds of scenarios from ‘Somebody looked at me weird’ to ‘Somebody cut me off.’ Just about every excuse or reason in the book, we’ve heard it,” said Trooper Josh Lewis of the Colorado State Patrol.

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If you find yourself the target of a driver’s rage, Lewis says always take the high road.

Last month, Colorado State Patrol hosted a podcast to discuss common traffic behaviors that often lead to road rage. Driving slow in the left lane, failed zipper merges and tailgating are enough to turn some drivers’ anger into aggression.

Colorado State Patrol relies on incident reporting through people dialing *CSP to find these drivers before their actions cause harm.

“We do our best to be able to respond to every single call. At the very least, all of that data is collected so we know what areas may need higher patrols and higher visibility of officers there,” said Lewis. “If you see something dangerous happening, please contact us. We need to know that information.”

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According to AAA Traffic Safety data, more than 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the last 30 days.

Skyler McKinley, AAA Regional Director of Public Affairs, says deadly roads are expected nationwide in the coming months. He says crashes typically increase over the summer and during times of societal unrest.

“We have this perfect storm. Many folks have been driving without traffic for a year and they’ve gotten used to it. As traffic returns, some are going to get enraged. Some of us who haven’t been driving every day the past year might be a little rusty and more prone to make innocent mistakes,” said McKinley.

A victim of road rage may be tempted to express anger at the driver. The best response is no response. McKinley says it’s often the reaction to someone’s rage that escalates their aggression.

“We know from our data that doing something in return and in response is often when these become fatal incidents,” said McKinley. “The worst thing you can do is shake your fist or throw them an offensive hand gesture. Do whatever you can do to get away from them.”

AAA also suggests driving to a public place, like a police station or hospital, if you believe the driver will follow you and become confrontational. If you’re the target of road rage, or you see another driver who’s becoming aggressive, CSP says to call it in immediately.

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“Sometimes it’s as simple as somebody having a really bad day and it escalates to that point. It’s never an excuse, no matter what you have going on, to try and harm somebody inside or outside of your vehicle,” said Lewis.

Tori Mason