Still more people were killed or wounded in cases of road rage last year, an analysis has found, reaching an average of 44 per month. For the year, the totals rose steeply, to 130 people shot to death and almost 400 wounded after encountering an angry driver, NBC News reports. Traffic was down in 2020 as the pandemic took hold, but the comparable 2019 figures are 68 deaths and 225 injuries. The count came Monday from Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that works for gun control. The numbers were the highest in the six years the organization has been counting, per the Wall Street Journal.
No one can know why attacks are increasing. "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. A psychology professor said the current economic uncertainty is among the factors that can spark anger among drivers. "One of the contributors to any angering situation is the mood we're in at the time we are provoked," said Ryan Martin of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. "If we're already stressed, we're more likely to snap."
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, attributed the increase to the rise in gun sales and industry lobbying efforts to permit guns to be carried in more places. The FBI ran more background checks of buyers in 2020 than ever. "We will not accept a new normal in which the retaliation for a honked horn is gunfire," Watts said. The analysis found the states with the highest rates of shootings attributed to road rage were New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. (Read more road rage stories.)