Impaired Driving is Common on Houston’s Roads

by Terry Bryant

Impaired driving is more common on Houston-area roads and highways than anywhere else in the state or country, data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows. Out of all the major metropolitan areas in the country, including much more highly populated places like Los Angeles – which has double the population – Houston leads the way in drunk and drugged driving-related fatalities.

According to an analysis of the statistics performed and reported on by the Houston Chronicle in the article “Out of Control,” the nine-county area has averaged more than 5,000 drunk or drugged driving crashes annually since 2010. That equals about 14 a day, or more than one accident every single hour. More than 300 people a year die in impaired driving-related crashes in the area. And perhaps not surprisingly, the highest percentage of impaired driving crashes happen on the weekend nights, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, data from 2016 and 2017 shows.

Causes of the Problem

Why are there so many impaired drivers on our roads? The Chronicle’s article cites a number of reasons, based on analysis of court documents, police records, state highway crash data, state laws, and input from traffic safety experts. The mere size of the sprawling Houston area and lack of convenient public transportation options is a factor. Another is the attitudes of some Texans themselves, who don’t seem to feel the stigma related to drunk driving. As a cab driver quoted in the article said, “People here just drink and drive. Every weekend I’m out I see someone sliding all over the road.”

A lack of enforcement by police agencies, lax laws, and inconsistent DUI sentences are also to blame. Many repeat offenders go on to drive while intoxicated, over and over again. For example, in Harris County, there have been approximately 30,000 people arrested for impaired driving since 2015. Of those drivers, about 8,000 had previous convictions for driving while intoxicated.

Protect Yourself

It’s unfortunate that Houston has such an impaired driving problem and not enough is being done to curb it. Responsible drivers should not have to worry about themselves and their families being injured – or worse – in a crash caused by a drunk driver.

To help protect yourself on the road, look out for other vehicles whose drivers might be impaired. Some common signs of impaired driving include:

  • Weaving and swerving
  • Abruptly accelerating and decelerating
  • Driving far under the speed limit
  • Making excessively wide turns
  • Coming too close to other vehicles or objects
  • Stopping in the middle of the road for no reason
  • Driving without headlights
  • Running stop signs or traffic lights.

If you are on the road and believe another driver is drunk, first distance yourself from the vehicle. Then call 911 and report the driver, giving as much information as you can about the make, model, and color of the car, the license plate if you are able to see it without putting yourself in danger, and the direction in which the car is traveling.

Should you be the victim of an accident caused by an impaired driver, the experienced attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are here to help. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.