Road-rage shootings killed or injured an average of 44 people a month in 2021, says a new study by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. That figure is double the pre-pandemic average of 22 people killed or wounded in such incidents each month in 2019, the Wall Street Journal reports. The analysis found that there were 728 road-rage incidents with a gun last year—the highest in the six years that the gun-control advocacy group has recorded incidents. “Driving gets heated in plenty of other countries, but only in the U.S. is someone shot and injured or killed every 17 hours in a road-rage incident,” said Everytown's Sarah Burd-Sharps. From 2016 to 2019, around one-third of road-rage incidents involving a gun resulted in injury or death. That translated to under 300 people for each of those years. In 2021, it was more than 500 people.
“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. Anxiety and uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to economic uncertainty and other stresses, are causing 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,” he said. “If we’re already stressed, we’re more likely to snap.” The study found that the states with the highest rates of road-rage shootings include New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin and Tennessee.