Traffic Deaths in Texas Have Increased By 34% Since 2010

by Terry Bryant

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), 3,720 people died on Texas roadways in 2017. And the Insurance Council of Texas states that since our low of 2,761 in 2010, traffic deaths in our state have increased by over one-third (34%).

So many people are moving to Texas — more than 1,000 people a day — which certainly adds to our already crowded streets and highways. But Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, says, “Alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving remain the major factors in most of the accidents on our roadways.” Our growing Texas economy, lower gasoline prices, and population explosion also help explain that steady increase in traffic fatalities in this decade.

Distracted driving continues to be a major contributor to our overall rise in Texas’ vehicle crashes and deaths. While the full report for 2017 hasn’t been released, we know that in 2016, there were 455 people killed in wrecks attributed to distracted driving. According to the Chief Actuary at the Insurance Information Institute, this dangerous habit is getting worse; even in the face of our new state law banning texting while driving. James Lynch, in pointing out that distracted driving continues to rise in epidemic proportions, observes, “People are paying more attention to smartphones and fancy dashboards than the road.”

Those aren’t the only culprits though. Distracted driving involves anything that diverts the driver’s attention, such as talking on the phone, eating, putting on makeup, talking with another passenger, adjusting the car stereo, or using their vehicle’s dashboard technology interface.

Drunk driving is still the leading cause of traffic collisions in Texas

Driving while intoxicated (DWI – a .08 or greater BAC blood or breath alcohol concentration) remains the greatest cause of vehicle-related fatalities and injuries, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). To understand the scope of the problem, let’s look at the numbers released last year about crashes in 2016.

  • In 2016, almost 1,000 people were killed in DWI accidents. That total includes 56 pedestrians and cyclists. The breakdown: 143 passengers in vehicles driven by DUI drivers, 638 DUI drivers themselves, and 149 persons in vehicles struck by DUI drivers.
  • Of the 17,434 total DWI crashes in Texas in 2016, the five cities with the highest number of them were:  San Antonio – 1,845; Houston – 1,492; Austin – 1,432; Dallas – 1,310; and El Paso – 759.

OTHER NOTABLE STATISTICS ON TEXAS TRAFFIC FATALITIES

  • There were 14,202 serious injury crashes in Texas in 2016 resulting in 17,582 serious injuries.
  • The DPS also disclosed that of all persons killed in vehicles in 2016, almost 44% were not wearing safety belts.
  • 496 motorcyclists (operators and passengers) were killed in 2016, 53% of those who died weren’t wearing a helmet.
  • 678 pedestrians and 65 bicyclists were killed in 2016. Both of these numbers were at least 20% higher than the previous year.

All this certainly explains why there have been ZERO “deathless” days on Texas roads in over 17 years. The last day without a fatal accident was November 7, 2000. Based on the preliminary numbers, we can likely expect an uptick in some of these statistics once the final tallies from 2017 are released by the DPS.

If you or a family member was injured by a negligent, reckless, or drunk driver, the attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law can help. Call us today or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.