Skip to Main Content

When road rage becomes gun rage: Facts and prevention

Close up shot of a man's hands holding a car's steering wheel and honking the horn.
Adobe Stock
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our

Incidents of road rage increased between 2017 and 2021. Studies show that up to one-third of drivers report engaging in road rage—but most of the time, that behavior doesn’t result in a life threatening standoff. However, occasionally, road rage results in fatal consequences. In June of 2022, a Texas man ran a red light. When an onlooker honked, the offender—in an episode of road rage—fired a gun into the onlooker’s vehicle and seriously injured the driver’s 8-year-old son, Nicco.

This tragic report isn’t the only of its kind. In 2021, More than 500 people were wounded or killed in a road rage incident. One of the best ways to stay safe behind the wheel is to stay informed. Knowing your state’s rules on concealed and open carry may help you know what to expect. And knowing what to do in the event of an incident may help you achieve peace-of-mind.

Road rage shooting statistics

Instances of road rage gun violence are on the rise following the pandemic. A road rage shooting refers to any incident in which a firearm is shot. It does not always result in an injury or death. While most road rage encounters end without an injury, it’s important to be aware of risks and to be ready with a plan in the event of an altercation.

Info
The following facts illustrate the severity and significance of road rage shootings in the United States.
  • There have been 41 deaths and 115 injuries due to road rage gun violence in the United States in 2022. (The Trace)
  • Road rage shootings reached the highest levels on record in 2021. (CBS News)
  • In 2021, 728 road rage incidents involved a gun. Of these incidents, 132 resulted in death and 390 resulted in injuries. (The Trace)
  • Road rage violence is higher in the United States than anywhere else. (CBS News)
  • In the first half of 2021, a killing or injury from road rage was recorded every 18 hours in the United States. (ABC News)
  • As of June 2022, someone is shot in a road rage incident every 17 hours. (Everytown)
  • The number of road rage-related shootings doubled between 2020 and 2021. (ABC News)
  • Many studies have found links between drivers carrying a gun in their vehicle and aggressive behavior behind the wheel. (ABC News)
  • Almost 70% of road rage incidents result in a casualty. That’s up from around 35% between 2016 and 2019. (Everytown)
  • Gun rage and road rage have increased during the pandemic. (Healthline)
  • Pandemic-induced stress, trauma, grief and isolation may be partially to blame for the increase in violent road rage. (Healthline)
  • Since 2013, 184 children were killed and 391 children were injured in instances of gun violence. (Gun Violence Archive)
  • Red flag laws allow officials to revoke a person’s firearm if they believe the owner could use it to harm others or themselves. (Washington Post)
  • If you are legally carrying a firearm in your vehicle, it should be secured, locked and out of sight at all times for maximum safety. (Project Safe Child)

Road rage statistics unrelated to gun violence may also be helpful information to review.

Gun laws by state

States have differing rates of road rage shootings. Varying gun rage rates have been associated with gun control and firearm laws in each state. For instance, in 2021, Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin saw the highest rates of road rage incidents with a firearm. The same year, North Dakota and South Dakota had zero gun-related road rage incidents. You can find information on gun laws by state and road rage gun violence rates in the table below. Note that gun laws in your state could change.

State (A to Z) Number of deaths and injuries from road rage incidents (2020 to 2022) Gun laws by state (FindLaw)
Alabama 21 No license required to purchase.
Permit required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Alaska 3 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Arizona 57 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Arkansas 2 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
California 59 License required to purchase a gun in California.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is generally prohibited.
Colorado 35 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Connecticut 7 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Delaware 3 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed in most areas.
District of Columbia 7 No license required to purchase, but you must register firearms.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
Florida 78 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
Georgia 48 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed in certain areas with a license.
Hawaii 5 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited in most circumstances.
Idaho 3 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Illinois 46 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited in most circumstances.
Indiana 24 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed with a license.
Iowa 3 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed everywhere except the state capitol building.
Kansas 15 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Kentucky 24 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Louisiana 24 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited in most circumstances.
Maine 2 No license required to purchase if you are 21 or older.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Maryland 22 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Massachusetts 9 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Michigan 68 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Minnesota 17 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Mississippi 7 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Missouri 31 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Montana 3 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Nebraska 9 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
Nevada 13 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
New Hampshire 1 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
New Jersey 9 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
New Mexico 30 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
New York 36 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
North Carolina 33 License required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
North Dakota 0 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Ohio 39 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Oklahoma 18 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Oregon 8 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
Pennsylvania 36 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Rhode Island 3 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
South Carolina 25 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
South Dakota No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is prohibited.
Tennessee 73 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Texas 241 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed in most areas.
Utah 19 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Vermont 2 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Virginia 32 No license required to purchase, except for machine guns.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed in most areas.
Washington 18 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed in most areas.
West Virginia 7 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Wisconsin 67 No license required to purchase.
License required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.
Wyoming 1 No license required to purchase.
No license required for concealed carry.
Open carry is allowed.

Data is from Gun Violence Archive and is from 2020 to present (as of 7/10/2022).

Instances of road rage involving guns may occur at different levels. An offender may threaten a driver about a gun, show a gun, point a gun and/or shoot a gun.

Road rage shooting safety

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), road rage may occur due to high stress, mental health issues and psychological disorders and aggressive thinking. It may be prompted by driving on busy roads, carrying a firearm or even viewing aggressive stimuli such as billboards. While carrying a firearm doesn’t equate to road rage, studies have shown that proximity to a gun can cause individuals to act more aggressively, a phenomenon known as the ‘weapons effect.’ Road rage is more likely to be exhibited by individuals in an unrewarding job or living a high-stress life in an urban area—and the odds of aggressive driving increase when a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Adjusting your perspective may be helpful in avoiding road rage. Rather than thinking someone cut you off, you may want to consider that you could have been in that motorist’s blind spot.

Road rage shootings are more likely to occur after provocations such as tailgating, passing on the shoulder or flashing one’s high beams. Drivers exhibiting road rage often aren’t thinking clearly. Rather than confronting the driver, you may want to simply get out of their way, avoid eye contact and ignore any gestures. Meanwhile, you or a passenger may want to call law enforcement.

If you are involved in a road rage collision, you may want to follow these tips.

  • Consider purchasing car insurance. You won’t want to wait until you’re involved in a road rage incident to purchase full coverage car insurance, which would protect your finances against damage done to your vehicle. If you lease or finance your vehicle, a certain amount of car insurance may be required. If you own your vehicle, you’ll be able to choose which coverage types you want. Even if you’re looking for cheap car insurance, you don’t have to skimp on coverage. Many companies offer affordable options for collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, alongside several add-ons. You may want to start your search by comparing car insurance quotes from several companies.
  • Make sure you have valid registration: You’ll also want to make sure your vehicle has valid registration. When the police arrive at the scene, your registration helps them confirm vehicle ownership and assess past incidents.
  • Make sure you and any passengers are safe. Immediately after a collision, it’s important to see if you and any of your passengers are injured. If so, you’ll likely need to dial 9-1-1 and seek medical attention.
  • Report the event to law enforcement. Whether or not you need medical attention, you will likely want to call law enforcement and report the collision. You don’t need a police report to file an insurance claim. However, having an official policy report typically speeds up the claims process.
  • File a claim. If your vehicle is damaged, you may want to file a claim with your insurance company. Typically, you can file a claim online, via your insurance company’s mobile app, or over the phone. You will typically have the option to submit photos with the claim.

Bottom line

The safety of you and your passengers is the most important consideration when dealing with another driver’s road rage. While most instances of road rage do not result in a shooting, it’s important to be cautious. One of the best ways to avoid road rage gun violence is to remove yourself from any altercations with another driver. Remember to avoid eye contact, exchanging gestures and honking. Instead, it may be best to lay low and call law enforcement to report the driver.

You may want to purchase a dash camera and avoid provoking reckless drivers. Most road rage altercations end with words and gestures and nothing more. But following simple protocol may help you avoid instances of life-threatening road rage.

Written by
Lizzie Nealon
Insurance Writer
Lizzie Nealon is a former insurance writer for Bankrate. Her favorite part of the job is making home, auto and life insurance digestible for readers so they can prepare for the future.
Edited by
Insurance Editor