Using Gun Violence Archive’s database to analyze road rage incidents, Everytown Research & Policy found that the number of road rage injuries and deaths involving guns has increased every year since 2018.
In that year, at least 70 road rage shooting deaths occurred in the United States; in 2022, the number doubled to 141. The same trend occurred with gun injuries: at least 176 people were injured in a road rage incident in 2018, with a staggering increase to 413 people in 2022. These incidents translate to a person being shot and either injured or killed in a road rage incident in 2022 every 16 hours, on average.
While nearly every state in the country saw at least one victim from a road rage shooting in 2022, a significant disparity exists between states. The five states with the highest rate of people shot in road rage incidents are New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. These states make up only 8 percent of the US population but saw 20 percent of road rage shooting victims.
This disparity occurs across geographic regions as well. The southern United States, which has weaker gun laws on average than the nation overall, sees the highest rates of victimization from road rage shootings, double those in the Northeast. The nine northeastern states4 have both the lowest rates of victimization from road rage shootings and overall far stronger gun laws than much of the nation.
Looking in particular at one important gun policy—rules for carrying a concealed gun in public—the association between loosening those rules and road rage is clear.
Concealed carry firearms permit requirements—which may involve passing a background check, completing safety training and live-fire instruction, and other criteria—fall along a spectrum of protection: in 2022, eight states required would-be gun carriers to provide a specific reason for needing a gun in public, 18 states required a carry permit but did not require this type of “good cause” justification, and 24 states did not require a permit at all.
As is clear in the chart below, states that were permit less in 2022 have by far the highest rate of road rage shootings with injuries or deaths.
States that did not require a permit had nearly triple the rate of road rage shooting victimization than those states with the most protective standards. Moreover, states that were permit less in 2022 had 27 percent more deaths and injuries in road rage incidents involving a gun than states that required a permit but did not give law enforcement broad authority to deny an application.
In June 2022 the US Supreme Court issued a ruling that barred states from requiring any type of “good cause” justification for concealed carry permits, significantly limiting their ability to protect their residents. One consequence of this new ruling is that many of the states with the lowest rates of road rage (the light blue line) have been forced to weaken their laws. We fear that another consequence will be more road rage.
In terms of overall crime rates, states that have weakened their permitting systems have seen a 13 to 15 percent increase in crime. But what the analysis about road rage and gun-carrying regulations shows is that the states with weaker standards have also made it easier and more likely for people to take their guns out of their homes and into their cars. The results on our streets and highways have been tragic.
Key insights + statistics
-In 2023, 92% witnessed an act of road rage in the past year. (The Zebra)
-A total of 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been attributed to road rage over a seven-year period in the United States (SafeMotorist).
-In 2022, someone was shot and killed in a road rage incident every 16 hours. (Everytown Research) 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving (NHTSA)
-Road rage has been responsible for about 300 deaths since 2013. (NHTSA)
-30 murders annually are linked to road rage. (American Psychological Association)
-50% of drivers respond to the careless acts of other drivers with aggressive behavior themselves (American Psychology Association)
-94% of traffic accidents are caused by driver error. (NPR)
-37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. (AutoVantage Club)
-500% increase in reported cases of road rage over the last 10 years. (CNN)
What is the root of aggressive driving?
Aggressive driving, also called more commonly as “road rage”, is dangerous and negative behavior drivers engage in for a variety of reasons.
Oftentimes, the driver is drunk (already making poor decisions), suffering from a mental breakdown or emotional strain, or simply just late and needs to get somewhere fast.
While none of these are acceptable reasons for putting yourself and others at risk, road rage is all too common.