As drivers return, so does the road rage

Reports of confrontations rise in the new year

Road rage in Los Angeles



“Anybody wanna die now? Anybody?”


Those were the words shouted by an angry Ashley Tamika Greenwade last month at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Olympic Boulevard in the community of Carthay. It happened during rush hour traffic while Greenwade pointed a loaded gun out the window, and then fired in the air through her sunroof, according to a video obtained by Greenwade was arrested and later charged with several firearms offenses.


It was an outrageous situation, but not an isolated one. From Jan. 1 through April 15 there were 172 incidents of road rage in the city. That represents a nearly 7% increase from the 161 in the same time last year, according to Los Angeles Police Department data.


Road rage reports, Jan. 1-April 15, 2021 and 2020

Bar chart of road rage incidents, Jan-April, 2020 v 2021

The rise in road rage incidents coincides with drivers getting back in their cars in increased numbers. Traffic dwindled last March as the coronavirus pandemic arrived and most businesses shut down.


In March 2021 alone, there were 53 road rage incidents reported to police, compared with 35 in the same month last year. The LAPD recorded 20 incidents in the first 15 days of April, up from just 12 during the same time period in 2020. 


Road rage reports, March 15-April 15, 2021 and 2020

Bar chart of road rage incidents, March 15-April 15

With more vehicles on the road, “the likelihood of an incident occurring is higher due to traffic or people being mad trying to get home,” said Officer Norma Eisenman, a department public information officer.


There is a difference between aggressive driving and road rage, according to the LAPD. Aggressive driving, which includes speeding or riding close to someone’s bumper, is a traffic violation that can result in a ticket, according to Eisenman. She added that an officer observing that kind of behavior could have probable cause to make a traffic stop. 


Road rage is defined as when someone commits an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon due to an incident that happened while driving. This is a criminal offense that can be prosecuted. The LAPD classifies road rage as requiring “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.” 


Incidents in downtown

There have been a variety of incidents. On the afternoon of March 31, a dispute in Mid-City led to a driver pulling out a gun and displaying it to a 57-year-old Black woman. Police said she was targeted due to her race. 


Another incident occurred on the afternoon of March 16. A road rage encounter in Mission Hills prompted a driver to assault a 22-year-old Hispanic man. The driver also sprayed mace at the victim. 


Heavily trafficked Downtown was the site of the highest number of road rage incidents, with nine reports from Jan. 1-April 15. There were eight in Van Nuys


The LAPD has a roster of actions that it warns could “provoke drivers to commit acts of violence,” and advises people to avoid. They include cutting people off, tailgating, improper use of high-beam headlights and using obscene gestures.  


Men were overwhelmingly involved in incidents of road rage: There were 108 reports that involved a man so far this year, compared with only 58 with a woman as the suspect (gender was unknown on six occasions). 


How we did it: We examined crime data from the  Los Angeles Police Department from Jan. 1, 2021-April 15, 2021, compared with the same time period last year. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.


LAPD data only reflects crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.


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