An argument between two drivers merging in slow traffic after a Houston Astros baseball game last summer ended with two gunshots, fired from a moving Buick and exploding through the glass of a fleeing Ford pickup truck. A teenager, David Castro, was killed. The random pointlessness of the killing shocked Houston. It was one of dozens of similar incidents across the U.S. over the past year amid an explosion of shootings and killings attributed to rage on the road, reports the New York Times. These eruptions of sudden violence, such as a man in Tulsa firing repeatedly after an argument at a red light and a Georgia driver shot on a family road trip, have been perhaps most pronounced on the roads of Texas. “In the past, people curse one another, throw up the finger and keep moving,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “Now instead of throwing up the finger, they’re pulling out the gun and shooting.”
As more motorists seemed to be firing guns last year, the Dallas Police Department began tracking road rage shootings for the first time. The alarming results: 45 people wounded, 11 killed. In Austin last year, the police recorded 160 episodes of drivers pointing or firing a gun; this year, there have been 15 road rage shootings, with three people struck. The prevalence of such violence, not just in Texas but around the U.S.,suggests a cultural commonality, an extreme example of deteriorating behavior that has also flared on airplanes and in stores. “It’s the same sort of ball of wax: People getting frustrated, feeling strained and acting out toward others,” said criminologist Charis Kubrin of the University of California, Irvine. “One thing that we do know is that there has been a huge rise in gun sales. the Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit that compiles data from government sources and media reports, found that more than 500 people had been injured or killed in reported road rage shootings last year, up from fewer than 300 in 2019.