PHOENIX — Deadly road rage shootings hit a record high in 2021 across the U.S. Some of those dangerous disputes happened here in the Valley.
No matter how you think you drive, no matter how you think others drive. Road rage, Stacey Wales believes, is often based on someone assuming.
"They don't know you. It wasn't personal. You are choosing to make it personal and say I can't believe they offended my honor or offend the way I live my life,” said Wales.
Wales' brother, Chris Pelkey, was killed during a road rage shooting on November 13, 2021, in Chandler.
"It was excruciating going through the holidays without him,” added Wales.
Chris survived three tours in combat. He another driver got into an argument at a red light and Pelkey was shot once he got out of his car.
Wales' brother was one of more than 520 people killed or injured in road rage shootings across the U.S. last year. That's according to numbers compiled by the advocacy group, 'Everytown for Gun Safety.'
"It's absolutely horrific hearing those stats because with every shooting, there was someone behind the gun making the choice to pull the trigger,” added Wales.
A spokesman for the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety told ABC15 Arizona experienced a 23% increase in road rage incidents from 2020 to 2021.
Law enforcement officers across Arizona recorded more than 503 road rage incidents in 2020. In 2021, the number skyrocketed to 622. So far this year, the number is 95.
Experts have suggested pandemic-related stressors played a role in the recent increase.
"I think people lost some of that social tact. I think we are not as tolerant of each other because we have been away from society,” added Wales.