Gun-toting motorists more prone to road rage
03 February 2006
From New Scientist Print Edition
GUN lobbyists like to repeat the quote often attributed to American writer Robert Heinlein, that "an armed society is a polite society". But this is certainly not true for motorists.
A survey of 2400 drivers carried out by David Hemenway and his colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that motorists who carry guns in their cars are far more likely to indulge in road rage - driving aggressively or making obscene gestures - than motorists without guns. Some 23 per cent of gun-toting drivers admitted making rude signs, compared with 16 per cent of those who did not carry guns (Accident Analysis and Prevention, DOI:10.1016/j.aap.2005.12.014).
Yet in some states it is easier than ever to own a gun and carry it a car. In the past two decades 23 states have eased restrictions on carrying guns, says researcher Mary Vriniotis. Police no longer have the right to ban someone they consider unsuitable from owning a gun. People now only have to pass background checks, such as the absence of criminal convictions.
“In some states it is easier than ever to own a gun and carry it in a car”"Our findings indicate that the people driving around with guns in their cars are not among the most responsible and best-behaved people on the road," says Vriniotis. "In the interests of injury and violence prevention, it probably makes more sense to tighten rather than relax restrictions on gun carrying in motor vehicles."
From issue 2537 of New Scientist magazine, 03 February 2006, page 7