Report: Drivers Spend Less Time on the Road, But Frustration Grows

Data: Zebra; Graphic: Will Chase / Axios

Austin Police are still looking for a suspect in a possible road rage shootout that took place in East Austin on New Years Eve.

  • The shooting outside of Winn Elementary School left one person with gunshot wounds.

Why is this important: This is the latest example of road rage in the region, and a new report from Austin insurance startup The Zebra has found that one in five drivers are increasingly irritated by fellow motorists despite having traveled less kilometers since the start of the pandemic.

By the numbers: The Texas Department of Transportation measures road rage only when it results in an accident – and when an officer determines it is a contributing factor.

  • Road rage has been a factor in at least 288 crashes over the past three years in Travis, Williamson and Hays counties, according to state data obtained by Axios – with more such crashes in 2021 than the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

To note: Road rage is not considered a crime, although it can lead to criminal activity. This makes it more difficult to track road rage incidents, unless there are reports of assault or damage.

But there are signs that road rage incidents continue to rise across the country. The Trace, a nonprofit news agency funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, reported that in the first six months of 2017, nearly two incidents of gun-related road rage occurred per day, which has more than doubled since 2014.

The most recent Zebra study found that about 35% of the nearly 1,000 respondents online say they drive less, but are more frustrated on the road.

  • More than half of drivers said they were more frustrated on the freeway. These drivers believe others are reckless with fewer people on the road, and others have mentioned that the pandemic has brought an influx of residents – and drivers – to their areas, causing more traffic.
  • In addition, distracted drivers are the main source of anger or frustration. The study noted that about 1 in 5 drivers have reported a road rage incident to police, but most do not report it.

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