Researchers Reveal The Startling Effects The Pandemic Has Had On Drivers

Road rage incidents and road rage-related shootings have increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a June 2021 report from Everytown for Gun Safety. In 2021, the monthly average number of people shot or killed in road rage incidents nearly doubled from the previous year, going from 22 to 42 injuries and deaths per month.

While further research is still needed, experts believe that lax gun laws and the stress of the pandemic may to be blame for this sharp surge in road rage incidents and gun violence. In fact, the report found that there are many possible factors causing an increase in road violence, including a rise in gun sales and a lack of access to jobs, housing, and other basic necessities (via Everytown for Gun Safety).

"People are under pressure. They are under stress and angry already about a lot of things. And driving is a perfectly designed situation to cause anger," Ryan Martin, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay who researches anger, road rage, and aggressive driving, told the Los Angeles Times. "People are heading someplace. It's easy to feel like their goals are being blocked. It's high stress and anxiety provoking."

How to stay safe from drivers with road rage

While road rage isn't exactly uncommon, having access to a deadly weapon and being under added pressure and stress can lead to a potentially lethal situation, endangering the lives of drivers, passengers, and even nearby pedestrians. According to Healthline, reckless and aggressive driving, especially when combined with a weapon, can pose a serious risk to public health and safety.

"Gun violence was already a public health crisis before the pandemic," Sarah Burd-Sharps, the senior director of research at Everytown for Gun Safety and co-author the report, told Healthline, "but when you see the kind of increases we've seen in road rage injuries and deaths in such a short amount of time, it's a clear warning sign that we need action." Even without a gun or weapon, however, road rage can turn violent and cause crashes, injuries, and deaths.

That's why it's important to remain calm and not respond to aggressive drivers on the road. Being polite and maintaining a safe distance can help diffuse the situation and prevent further conflict. However, if this doesn't work, you should call 911 and drive to a public place with plenty of people and witnesses nearby. This may prevent further escalation.