Last year was the worst year for fatal road traffic incidents since the persecution began, data shows. In 2021, 522 people were killed or injured in road traffic incidents.
Research by Everytown, a non-profit organization against gun violence, shows that road traffic incidents have become more deadly and more frequent during the pandemic. Last year, 728 street riot incidents involved a firearm, 62 percent of which resulted in someone being injured or killed. A total of 131 people died.
In 2020, 702 street riot incidents involved a firearm and 49 percent resulted in injury or death – 102 people were killed.
Everytown’s investigation was based on the database of shooting reports compiled by the non-profit Gun Violence Archive. The group began pursuing gun violence in traffic in 2016.
Sarah Burd-Sharps, senior director of research at Everytown, told CBS News that “driving is definitely going to get hot in a lot of other countries. And we’ve looked at street riots in a number of countries, but only in the US does a street riot get someone shot and injured or killed every 17 hours, that’s our calculations.”
“You can’t ignore the record spike in arms sales. In the 10 years to 2019, about 13.5 million guns were sold each year,” she said.
“So for over a decade it’s been pretty stable. In 2020 it increased to 22 million sold and in 2021 to 19 million, millions more guns,” she added.
In a 2017 study published in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 60 people were assigned scenarios to drive. They either had a tennis racket or a gun in the passenger seat. Brad Bushman, the study’s author, said those with a gun were more aggressive.
The Ohio State University communications professor told CBS, “We have nationally representative data that shows drivers who have guns in their vehicles are more aggressive drivers than those who don’t.”
“So when people are in a car, they have a purpose, right? The goal is to get from point “A” to point “B” as quickly as possible. And if anything is frustrating it increases the likelihood of aggression, and having a gun in the vehicle increases the likelihood of a fatal event,” he added.
Aiden Leos, 6, was killed in a traffic incident in California on May 21, 2021. On the way to kindergarten, Aiden was killed when another driver opened fire on his mother’s vehicle after allegedly being cut off.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement March 30 that “a monster with a gun murdered a little boy on his way to daycare — because he was cut off on the freeway.”
“The callousness of this crime is indescribable,” he added.