If you’re among the many, many Americans who use a car to get around, you’ve probably noticed that, in just about every corner of the country, driving has been getting more dangerous. There are myriad explanations to turn to: As The New York Times reported in January, millions of miles of roads are in poor condition, rates of intoxicated driving have increased, and smartphones can easily distract drivers. But there’s another factor: aggressive driving. Americans are taking out their anger on the country’s roads and highways — and that road rage, The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee reported this week, increasingly involves guns.

Between 2014 and 2023, a Trace analysis found, the number of people shot in road rage incidents surged more than 400 percent. All told, angry drivers shot 3,095 people over that decade, or nearly one every day. In 2023 alone, someone was shot in a road rage incident on average every 18 hours. 

These shootings are happening in almost every corner of the country, and many are prompted by familiar circumstances: drivers cutting one another off in traffic, collisions, slamming on the brakes. In San Antonio, where The Trace’s analysis found the third-highest rate of road rage incidents involving firearms and victims shot, a Texas Department of Public Safety advised motorists to honk “sparingly” to avoid violence on the road. 

Dean DeSoto, executive director of the San Antonio-based Community Alliance for Traffic Safety, said road rage can be a reflection of broader social unrest. DeSoto started seeing an uptick in road rage incidents involving handguns in 2022, after the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a surge in gun-buying and the country endured a corresponding rise in gun violence. “Whatever goes on in your communities is demonstrated on your roadways,” DeSoto said. “Roadways are showcases.”

From The Trace

A roundup of stories from our team.

Road Rage Shootings Have Surged Over the Past Decade

An analysis by The Trace shows that gunfire on roads and highways is becoming more common as drivers increasingly use firearms to express their anger.


Introducing the Gun Violence Data Hub

The Trace is launching an initiative that will help journalists access data on one of America’s most critical — and opaque — public health crises.


How the NRA Forged Its Scorched-Earth Strategy

Episode 3 of “Long Shadow: In Guns We Trust” profiles the key people behind the gun group’s central philosophy: the right to — and need for — armed self-defense.

Listen → 

Philadelphians Don’t Want to Clean Up Blood After a Shooting. Help is Coming Soon.

An emerging program aims to relieve residents of the need to wipe away the hazardous debris.


What a Lawsuit Reveals About Savage Arms’ Axis II Rifle Safety

Evidence that surfaced during a failed lawsuit in Florida raises questions about the reliability of the popular hunting rifle.

Read more →

What to Know This Week

The Supreme Court announced that in its next term it will take on the fight over the Biden administration’s ghost gun regulation, a 2022 rule that changed the definition of firearms to include unfinished parts like those sold to build the untraceable weapons. It won’t be the first time the case has appeared before justices, however: The court has heard the case twice on its “shadow docket,” and twice ruled against gun manufacturers seeking to weaken the rule. [Politico/Vox

Tennessee’s Republican-dominated House approved legislation to allow public school teachers and staff to carry handguns on campus without informing parents and most of their colleagues that they’re armed, sending the bill to Governor Bill Lee’s desk, where it is almost certain to become law within weeks. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a similar measure into law last week, and lawmakers in Missouri and Alaska are also considering proposals to arm teachers. [The Tennessean/Rolling Stone

Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, called on the Department of Veterans Affairs to increase the number of full-time mental health care workers in rural parts of the country. Tester’s plea was partially in response to two veterans who shot and killed their mothers while struggling to get treatment at the same VA clinic. [ProPublica]

As college students across the country stage campus protests against the war in Gaza and issue calls for their schools to divest from weapons manufacturers that do business with Israel, some Republican lawmakers have demanded that President Joe Biden send the National Guard to clear the demonstrations. The turmoil recalls that of an earlier era: campus protests against the Vietnam War, one of which ended in members of the National Guard shooting and killing four unarmed students at Kent State University. [Associated Press/Politico/Campaign Trails

Six months after the deadliest mass shooting in Maine’s history, the state Legislature passed a suite of sweeping gun safety legislation: background checks on private gun sales; gun purchase waiting periods; and criminalizing the sale of guns to those prohibited from having them. Taken together, the bills amount to the most ambitious policy changes in historically gun-friendly Maine in decades. There was no action, however, on a proposal to strengthen the state’s risk protection order law. [Maine Public/Associated Press]

In Memoriam

Camay Mitchell DeSilva, 18, had gone off to Baltimore for college, but she returned home to Delaware every chance she got, her mother told CBS News Philadelphia. A freshman at Morgan State University, DeSilva was planning to transfer to Delaware State University, her parents said, where she’d be closer to the friends and family she loved spending time with. She was shot and killed early Sunday morning at the Dover campus, during a weekend visit to her best friend. DeSilva was pursuing a career in tech: She was a computer science major, and hoped to one day work in cybersecurity. She also enjoyed doing hair, her mom told FOX29, and had her own business. At a memorial for DeSilva in Wilmington, a high school friend described her as “funny, genuine, motivational.” “She lightened up a room,” DeSilva’s father said. “She was just everything.”

We Recommend

Farewell, and Thanks, to a Man Who Kept Kids Safe: “When they lost their beloved crossing guard, the students at Avenues The World School — Spider-Man, Wilder, Miss Seattle and the rest — paid tribute in cocoa and chalk.” [The New York Times]

Pull Quote

“You have seconds to react, and you have to manage a whole classroom full of children. I think it’s so irresponsible to listen to that scenario and think, ‘That’s our game plan.’”

— Mary Joyce, a self-described moderate and mother of a 10-year-old student who survived the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville last year, on Tennessee lawmakers passing a bill to allow teachers to carry guns on campuses, to The New York Times