DETROIT - At times, driving can be a bit stressful, leading to tense situations or even arguments, and now more often than ever before, those arguments are ending in gunfire.
A simple road rage incident led to gunfire last fall in Dearborn, Michigan, the single bullet leaving a hole in the driver side door barely missing Aboudy Elhadi.
“It was ready to shoot. He just pulled it out and shot,” Elhadi said.
Elhadi was driving when he saw a car driving recklessly; he decided to roll down his window and exchange a few words, not thinking it would lead to gunshots.
“What did I do to you to deserve to get shot? Like swear, throw fingers, this is normal things. But for you to raise a gun and shoot at people? This is not normal at all,” said Elhadi.
Elhadi was lucky to escape without injury. Some road rage shootings have been fatal, including one this week in Troy, Michigan, where a 55-year-old Detroit Fire Department lieutenant was shot and killed.
"We’re actually getting in arguments and shooting each other over not using a turn signal,” said Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw.
In his two decades with the Michigan State Police, Lt. Shaw says he’s never seen this level of violence on the roads. So far this year, Michigan State Police have responded to 26 freeway shootings in metro Detroit, 4 of them fatal. Seven resulted in injuries, and 13 of them were road rage.
"This is a huge problem we’re seeing not only here in Detroit, across the state of Michigan, but the entire country,” said Lt. Shaw.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, in the U.S. there have been nearly double the number of road rage deaths and injuries in 2021, compared to any other year on record, estimating that every 18 hours, a person is either injured or killed in a road rage shooting.
"If current trends continue, 2021 is on track to be the deadliest on record in terms of road rage," said Sarah Burd-Sharps, director of research for Everytown for Gun Safety.
Burd- Sharps says there are likely multiple factors that have led to the increase, including stress from the pandemic and record gun sales. She believes more could be done to bring the number of shootings down.
"There are policy solutions," Burd- Sharps said. "Not trying to say no guns, but saying let’s go at this responsibly. Let's have policies and laws that avoid a situation where a loaded gun is available in a tense situation to somebody who should never have a gun in the first place.”
Lt. Shaw says the focus needs to be on conflict resolution and learning how to deescalate tense situations.
“I think it’s always interesting where the gun is the focal point on it. We need to bring it back to the person,” Shaw said. "The gun is just a gun. It’s the person that brings it out there and does illegal things with it.”
Shaw says law enforcement alone can’t solve the problem.
"We've also had registered CPL owners pull out a handgun and shoot somebody because they were upset,” Shaw said. "We need to get back to the basics and just let things go.”
Everytown is now projecting more than 800 road rage shootings for 2021 with roughly 500 people being injured or killed.