How Dangerous Are Texas Roadways?
Texas ranks third in the United States for traffic fatalities, and just barely behind California and Florida. Every year, Texas accounts for more than 10% of the nation's traffic deaths. As per the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), at least 3,639 people died in Texas motor vehicle crashes in 2018. About 62% of those crashes occurred on the 82,000 miles of state and interstate highways that cross the state. Most of those were in or around Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. According to TxDOT, a person died in a traffic crash in the state about once every 2 hours and 25 minutes, and a person was injured in a crash about every 2 minutes and 7 seconds. About every 58 seconds there was a reportable a crash somewhere in Texas. During 2018, Houston had 60,146 reported traffic accidents. Dallas had 31,950. Fort Worth had another 15,399, while Austin had 15,365.
Traffic Fatalities in 2018
According to TxDOT, traffic fatalities in the state dropped from 3,720 in 2017 to 3,567 in 2018 – a 4% decrease. However, pedestrian fatalities totaled 621 in 2018. That figure represents about a 1% increase from the prior year. There were only 72 bicycle fatalities during the year, but that number still shows a 26% increase from 2017.
Here are some other significant numbers regarding traffic fatalities in Texas in 2018:
- Motorists drove 282,037 billion total miles in the state of Texas. That mileage represents a 3.3 increase from the prior year.
- 14,908 people were seriously injured in 12,161 serious injury crashes over the year; 249,241 suffered less-serious injuries.
- Rural traffic crash fatalities totaled 2001. Those deaths totaled just under 55% of all traffic deaths in the state for the year.
- Single vehicle accidents where a vehicle ran off the road resulted in 1,289 deaths. Those comprised more than 35% of all traffic deaths.
- Intersection accidents or accidents related to intersections tallied 701 fatalities.
- Head-on collisions are the deadliest types of crashes. A total of 548 victims died in head-on crashes in Texas last year.
- There wasn't a day in 2018 when there wasn't at least one traffic fatality.
- The largest number of people who were killed in a single traffic accident was five.
- On November 11, a Sunday, 25 people died in road accidents in the state. That was the deadliest day of the year. The preceding month, 332 people were killed in traffic accidents in Texas. That was the deadliest month of the year.
- Accidents involving motorcycles took the lives of 418 operators and passengers. Just under half of those who died were not wearing a helmet.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two remains worrisome. There were 940 people killed in Texas in 2018 when a driver was under the influence. Those fatalities comprise 26% of all Texas traffic accident fatalities for the year. Of course, most of these fatal crashes were reported on weekends within an hour after bar closing times.
- Distracted driving statutes ordinances and publicity are having their intended effect. During 2018, 398 people died in Texas accidents that were attributable to distracted driving. That's a 12% decrease from the prior year.
Some Common Causes of Texas Accidents
By reading between the lines in the above TxDOT findings, many of the common causes of Texas personal injury and wrongful death cases are evident. Those include:
- Failure to yield
- Illegal lane usage
- Drowsy and fatigued driving
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence (drugs and/or alcohol)
- Improperly designed, constructed, and/or maintained roads
Inherently Dangerous Roadways
There is a legal duty incumbent on federal, state, county and municipal governments and the road contractors that they use to safely design, build, and maintain the streets and highways we drive on. If they breach this duty, it increases the likelihood of a motor vehicle accident. In such a scenario, the injured parties may have grounds to hold them liable for damages.
Here are a few examples of poor design, construction and maintenance:
- Poor grading
- Steep shoulder drop-offs
- Narrow lanes of traffic
- Gravel and foreign debris on roadways
- Trees and vegetation blocking sight lines
- No traffic signals or malfunctioning signals
- No lighting or inadequate lighting
- No signage or inadequate signage
- Inadequate traffic control in construction and work zones
Damage to Roadways from Truck Traffic
As a result of oil exploration, drilling, and production, many roads in Texas have dramatically deteriorated. In fact, it's estimated that 1,400 to 4,000 fully loaded truck trips are required to complete the exploration, construction, and production process. These fully loaded vehicles can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Constant use of roadways to and from oil exploration and production sites by these vehicles rapidly accelerates road deterioration. According to TxDOT, there were so many oil field trucks traveling to and from the Eagle Ford shale area that 3,360 crashes involving injuries or fatalities have occurred since 2014.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
It's unequivocal that seat belts save lives, but nearly 50% of all people who died in Texas traffic accidents weren't wearing them. By simply buckling up, you significantly reduce the chances of serious injuries or fatalities in the event of an accident. It’s also important to control your speed and the interval between you and any vehicle that’s ahead of you. Also, don't engage in behaviors that could distract you from driving safely.
Above all else: Never drive when drowsy or fatigued or after consuming alcoholic beverages.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you were injured in an accident that was caused by the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, contact the Law Offices of Glen F. Larson right away. Our trial-tested motor vehicle accident attorney can answer your questions and fully advise you on your legal options.
Contact the Law Offices of Glen F. Larson at (512) 553-4994 to arrange a free consultation and case review.