18 Years Without a Deathless Day on Texas Roads

by Terry Bryant

The last fatality-free day on Texas roadways was November 7, 2000. To put into perspective how long ago that was, consider that George W. Bush was elected to his first term as U.S. president on that day. In the more than 18 years since, over 66,000 lives have been lost in motor vehicle accidents in the state.  There has not been one single day since that has passed without someone dying on a Texas roadway.

In the Houston area alone, nearly 650 people a year are killed in roadway wrecks, and approximately 2,900 more sustain serious injuries. These statistics make Houston the top metro area in the country when it comes to traffic deaths. Houston also claims a few other top spots that are nothing to brag about. These include leading the country in fatal crashes where alcohol or drugs are a factor and being second in the nation for fatal crashes that involve speeding. Dallas, the third largest city in Texas, also holds an unfortunate record of its own. It trails only Houston when it comes to nationwide traffic death numbers.

Texas Traffic Crash Causes

According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s #EndTheStreakTX campaign, the top causes of traffic fatalities in the state are distracted drivers who don’t stay in one lane, drunk driving, and speeding. Texting and cell phone use lead the way when it comes to distracted driving.

While dangerous, distracted, and just plain bad driving starts with drivers themselves, lax enforcement of traffic laws is also to blame. When there are no or few repercussions for poor driving behaviors, people aren’t motivated to change. Roadways and infrastructure design throughout the state, especially in the metro areas, also play a part. Many highways, with their associated high-speed limits, encourage people to drive faster, not more safely. For example, on Houston’s Grand Parkway, drivers routinely cruise along at more than 10 miles an hour above the already high posted speed limits, traffic data shows.

Another factor related to roadway design is that the streets and highways in crowded metropolitan areas have often been designed mainly with motor vehicle traffic in mind, which endangers pedestrians and bicyclists who are also using these roadways.

Fixing the Problem

Texas traffic safety experts point to a “three-legged” stool approach to combating the tragic roadway carnage.  This approach says that responsibility for reducing traffic accidents lies equally with all three legs in the stool: drivers, law enforcement, and roadway and infrastructure planners. It involves educating and encouraging people to drive more safely, making them face real consequences when they don’t, and designing and engineering streets with a mind toward safety and sharing the roads.

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a traffic accident, you may need legal counsel. The experienced attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are available to review your case and answer any questions you may have. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.