The spike in gun violence during the height of the COVID pandemic is finally subsiding. However, one aspect continues to climb aggressively.
According to newly released data by Everytown Research & Policy, road rage shootings involving deaths and injuries have skyrocketed in the last few years.
Experiencing aggressive driving on the road is not uncommon—roughly eight in 10 drivers surveyed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported having at least one incident in the month before the survey.
Having the presence of a gun can turn such an encounter from an unpleasant run-in into to a dangerous or even deadly incident for drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians. The new data has sown that the presence of a gun in a car will likely increase the likelihood of road rage.
Just last week for example, a driver was hospitalized after getting shot following an accident on the Southfield Freeway and Lyndon in Detroit. Similar incidents have been reportedly happening around the metro Detroit area for months now, with Police having to crackdown by installing License Plate Readers along freeways like I-96 and Southfield.
Michigan Police say these extreme efforts are needed to catch drivers who commit such felonious acts on the freeway. Because of a lack of surveillance, guns were reportedly being discharged in road rage incidents on numerous occasions.
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.
Michigan did not fare as badly as other states. According to the research, the five states with the highest rates of people shot in road rage incidents are New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Those states make up only 8 percent of the US population but saw 20 percent of road rage shooting victims.
What’s interesting to note is that 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 states have both the lowest rates of victimization from road rage shootings and overall far stronger gun laws than much of the nation.
Concealed carry firearms permit requirements—which may involve passing a background check, completing safety training and live-fire instruction—fall along a spectrum of protection.
In 2022, eight states required gun carrying applicants 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. The data shows that states that were permit less in 2022 have by far the highest rate of road rage shootings with injuries or deaths.
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 terms of overall crime rates, states that have weakened their permitting systems have seen a 13 to 15 percent increase in crime. The data on road rage and gun-carrying regulations shows 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 the streets. That in turn has resulted in more violence on our roads.
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