In June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a permitless carry law allowing Texans to carry handguns without being trained or licensed. House Bill 1927 has been lauded by state Republicans, but gun safety advocates worry that the policy change will increase deadly shootings. One area of particular concern is road rage gun deaths. This year is the deadliest on record for road rage shootings. Experts estimate 500 people nationwide will be injured or killed by the end of 2021. Road rage crimes are often driven by reckless impulsiveness, and putting guns in the hands of drivers who aren’t trained to handle them may be a recipe for disaster.
Be On the Lookout For These Signs of Road Rage
Road rage, or aggressive driving, is surprisingly common. If another driver cuts you off, refuses to let you merge, or is obviously distracted and almost causes a car crash, you’ll feel frustrated. Nearly 80% of drivers have expressed significant aggression or anger behind the wheel. Sometimes, though, it goes farther than muttering a string of expletives under your breath. Excessive honking, tailgating, offensive gestures, and yelling out of the window are all examples of road rage.
What makes people act aggressively on the road in ways that they wouldn’t in other situations? Anonymity is a significant factor — there’s a good chance you won’t ever see the drivers you interact with again, so you may feel more comfortable behaving poorly. Stress because of traffic delays or running late can make it harder to keep your emotions in check.
What Are the Dangers of Driving with Guns
Aggressive driving is made worse by drivers not correctly calculating the risk of responding angrily and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Adding a firearm to the equation can be deadly. Research has found that guns are “disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior.” These types of potential gun owners in Texas will no longer have to complete training, take a written exam and pass a shooting proficiency test. However, if a driver commits a road rage crime with a gun, the penalty is significant. Road rage shooting suspects can be charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony.
While road rage shootings are less common than other traffic fatalities like unintentional car accidents, they still pose a risk to drivers, especially those in Texas. All of the below road rage shootings happened in Texas over the last several weeks.
- In June, a Fort Worth driver fatally shot a motorcyclist who pulled a gun on him after a near-collision. The driver said he was acting in self-defense.
- In June, a pregnant Dallas woman was rushed to the hospital after another driver fired into her car, leaving her in critical condition and forced to deliver her baby early.
- In July, a teenager was shot and killed while leaving an Astros game after the boy’s father “exchanged hand gestures” with another driver. The driver retaliated by following the family and shooting several times.
- In July, an Irving man fired 17 shots from two guns at another driver on the road. Thankfully, no one was injured, but several vehicles were hit with bullets.
How to Handle a Road Rage Encounter
If another driver intends to fire a gun to injure or threaten you, there’s, unfortunately, nothing you can do to stop them. You can, however, play your part to lessen the chance of a road rage incident. Be cautious of other cars, and don’t speed or drive while distracted. If another driver seems aggressive, give them as much space as possible. If an angry driver tries to get your attention, avoid making eye contact and never return any hand gestures or obscenities.
If a driver is pointing a gun toward you, call 911 and move over to another lane if you’re on the interstate. Regardless of where you are, drive to the closest police or fire station. Do not pull over or get out of your car under any circumstance. If a passenger can get a description of the vehicle or the license plate number, that can help law enforcement track down the driver. Your primary focus should be getting you and any other vehicle occupants to safety.
Given that road rage shootings are already on the rise, permitless carry in Texas might create an even more dramatic uptick in personal injury cases. Texas drivers should be aware of the new law’s increased danger when they’re on the road trying to make it to their destination safely.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a road rage incident, The Cochran Firm Texas can help. Our firm has years of experience fighting for personal injury victims. Our team of lawyers can answer your questions, provide support, and help you determine the proper legal options following a stressful and dangerous experience. Contact us online for a free, confidential case evaluation, call us at 1-800-THE-FIRM (1-800-843-3476), or use our online chat now.
At Cochran Texas, we understand that needing legal help can be scary. It doesn’t have to be. We are a trusted leader in the legal profession and in our community. We know you are more than a case number. We get to know you as a person. This allows us to offer a balanced and thoughtful approach to giving you the best possible legal representation. Our mission is to protect the legal rights of ALL people in our community. No matter your race, gender, background or income level you have a right to skilled legal help. Call us at 800-843-3476.