Road rage shootings remain high, report says – here are the worst states

Road rage shootings have increased dramatically over the last decade across the United States, a recent analysis of data shows. 

Between 2014 and 2023, the number of people shot in a road rage incident spiked more than 400%, according to the data analysis by The Trace, a nonprofit that aims to shine a light on America's "gun violence crisis." 

Road rage shootings were highlighted in The Trace’s April report, showing that gunfire on roads and highways has become more common in recent years. The Trace used data from another nonprofit, the Gun Violence Archive, which publishes daily gun violence incidents via law enforcement, media, and government sources.  

Overall, angry drivers or passengers shot 3,095 people between 2014 and 2023, or nearly one every day, according to the report. One in four of those people were killed.


FILE - A "who shot Aiden?" sign on the Walnut Avenue bridge over The 55 Freeway in Orange, CA, is pictured on May 27, 2021. A total of 25 signs were hung on bridges in Orange County, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire. Aiden Leos, 6, was sittin

Someone shot in road rage incident every 18 hours in 2023, on average

Law enforcement agencies do not release statistics on road rage shootings as a specific category of crime, according to The Trace. However, the Gun Violence Archive tracks incidents in which someone in a car fires at a driver or passenger in another vehicle or brandishes a gun threateningly. 

"Since 2014, gun-involved road rage incidents have more than doubled, and the number of victims killed or injured has increased more than fivefold, the data shows," The Trace said in its report. 

"When we looked specifically at shootings — incidents in which either a victim or suspect was shot — the increase is even more consistent. The number of road rage shootings tracked by GVA increased by an average of 23 percent each year over the past decade," the report added.

In fact, the nonprofit said that someone was shot in a road rage incident on average every 18 hours in 2023, up from once every four days in 2014.

US states with the most reported road rage shootings

When looking at the total number of incidents between 2014 and 2023, the country’s most populous states – Texas, Florida, and California — lead the pack, according to the report. 

Texas recorded 741 incidents involving guns; in 72% of these, someone was shot. 

In Florida, there were 488 road rage incidents, while California recorded 321. 

Tennessee was ranked No. 4 with 263 total reported incidents, followed by Pennsylvania and Wisconsin tied at No. 5, each with 201 total reported incidents. 

US states with the fewest reported road rage shootings

On the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming ranked last for total reported incidents between 2014 and 2023 with only six. 

North Dakota had just seven total reported incidents, while South Dakota had eight, according to the report. 

What’s fueling the uptick in road rage shootings?

Dean DeSoto, executive director of the nonprofit Community Alliance for Traffic Safety in Texas, told The Trace that aggressive drivers have poor impulse control. 

When they turn violent, they’ll reach for whatever’s around them to use as a weapon — "whether that’s a baseball bat, a tumbler, or a gun." 

DeSoto noted how road rage can be a reflection of broader social unrest, too. Because driving is something many people must do, roadways become "an arena" in which they fight for power and control – including individual acts of aggression, protests that block bridges, and political banners on highways. 

"Whatever goes on in your communities is demonstrated on your roadways," DeSoto told The Trace. "Roadways are showcases."

Desoto noted how  suspects often speed away and disappear following road rage shootings, making these cases difficult to solve. 

Meanwhile, research has also shown that the presence of a gun can drive some people to act more aggressively. DeSoto’s nonprofit, which offers aggressive driving courses and counseling, said it began seeing an uptick in road rage incidents involving handguns in 2022 – following a large spike in gun purchases and gun violence during the first year of the pandemic.  

"Although guns don’t directly cause violence, they dramatically increase the likelihood that any situation involving conflict will be lethal," Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University communications professor who researches aggression and violence, told The Trace. 

"Imagine you’re in a car and somebody cuts you off. If there’s no gun in your car, maybe you flip them off. And if there’s a gun in your car, maybe you shoot them," Bushman added.

Bushman and his team published a 2017 study that examined this phenomenon, which The Trace refers to as "the weapons effect" in drivers. 

As part of the study, researchers assembled a group of drivers and placed either a black Airsoft gun or a tennis racket next to them in the passenger seat. They found that people sitting next to the replica gun were more likely to engage in aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating and speeding.

Bushman said decades of research has shown that aggression is fueled by frustration.

"Frustration means somebody blocks your goal," Bushman told The Trace. "When you’re in a car, you have a definite goal — to get from point A to point B as fast as you can. Anything that interferes or blocks that goal can increase the likelihood that you’ll behave aggressively."

This story was reported from Cincinnati.