Colorado among most deadly states for road-rage violence, which increases with societal stress

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AURORA, Colo. — One driver is in critical condition and another is being questioned by police after a road rage incident led to a shooting Wednesday afternoon.

It happened around 12:30 p.m. on I-225. Police say both drivers exited onto southbound Parker Road and at some point one driver shot the other. 

“Nationally, this is a huge problem,” Skyler McKinley, regional spokesperson for AAA Colorado told FOX31. 

AAA collects and keeps track of road rage data at the national level and their surveys show cases of angry driving are on the rise. 

“Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent admit to some sort of aggressive driving behaviors in the past 30 days,” McKinley said. 

Most of the time, those cases involve yelling, swerving, or obscene hand gestures. According to the data, rarely do road rage incidents escalate to the point of physical violence between parties. 

“That’s hard to track, folks brandishing weapons, because a lot of times, people who brandish a weapon and then drive off, they’re not caught,” McKinley said. 

Since August, FOX31 has covered at least three other incidents of suspected road rage that involved shots fired.

“We’re also seeing over the decades concurrent with the gun violence epidemic in America an increase in murders on our roadways,” McKinley said.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2018 Colorado ranked as the second deadliest state per capita for road rage incidents. McKinley added that gun violence on the roadway tends to increase during times of societal stress like recessions and the current pandemic.

“What makes an aggressive driving incident and turns it into a violent or fatal driving incident tends to be the victimized party raising their own temper, and it escalates out of control,” McKinley said. 

According to AAA, 56% of all fatal crashes involve some kind of aggressive behavior behind the wheel. AAA predicts that trend to continue and for road rage incidents to increase as we move out of the pandemic. 

“I think right now we’re going to see an increase in this because folks who have been on the roadways and have been driving without traffic are now encountering traffic again. Other drivers might be a little rusty, because they have not been driving,” McKinley said. 

His advice to drivers is to calm down and focus on getting to your destination.

“Every time you’re frustrated in traffic, remember a simple phrase: I can’t be mad at traffic, because I am traffic,” McKinley said.

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