More than 700 road-rage incidents in the U.S. last year involved a gun and caused more than 500 people to be killed or wounded, according to a report released Monday.
In 2021, the 728 incidents were up from 610 in 2016, according to the analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control and against gun violence. It was the highest in the six years that the group has recorded incidents.
Road-rage shootings killed or wounded an average of 44 people a month in 2021, according to Everytown, double the pre-pandemic average of 22 people each month in 2019. Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin had the highest rates of road-rage shootings, according to Everytown's analysis.
And road-rage shootings aren't slowing down this year, according to Everytown. So far, there have been at least 114 incidents of road-rage shootings, according to Everytown's analysis. It used nonprofit Gun Violence Archive's database, which is collected from law enforcement, government, media and other sources and verified, to analyze road-rage incidents involving a gun.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as an intentional assault with a motor vehicle or weapon that occurs on the road or that started on the road. It's a criminal offense.
Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research for Everytown, blamed America's easy access to guns.
"Driving gets heated in plenty of other countries, but only in the US is someone shot and injured or killed every 17 hours in a road-rage incident," Burd-Sharps said in a statement. "We've seen a national increase in shootings during the pandemic, and this increase has played out on our streets and highways, too."
"We don't definitively know what is driving this increase in road-rage shootings, but the pandemic and its continuing effects have brought all kinds of new stressors into people's lives and exacerbated underlying ones," Everytown said in a statement.
Anxiety and uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to economic uncertainty and other stresses are causing a lot of anger on the road, said Ryan Martin, associate dean and professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"One of the contributors to any angering situation is the mood we're in at the time we are provoked," Martin told The Hill. "If we're already stressed, we're more likely to snap."
"We're already stretched to the breaking point, and then someone else's driving becomes the last straw," Alex Korb, a neuroscientist and personal-development coach, told The Wall Street Journal last month.
Meanwhile, traffic fatalities in the US appeared to have increased at a record pace in the first nine months of 2021, according to the NHTSA. In a projection this February, the agency said that an estimated 31,720 people died in motor-vehicle crashes from January through September 2021, the most in the first nine months of any year since 2006.