It's been nearly two decades since Texas went a single day without a traffic fatality, according to The Texas Tribune. That day was November 7, 2000. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Texas has had an average of 10 traffic fatalities each day since.
Texas doesn't fare well when it comes to road safety. That's when compared to other large states, like Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, and New York. The only state with a higher rate of traffic deaths is Florida. In fact, the traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents in both Texas and Florida is higher than the national average of 11.2. In 2018, the road death rate in Texas was 12.7 per 100,000 people.
Statewide data also shows that between 2010-2018, Texas had more traffic fatalities than any other state. That includes California, which has a higher population. The three most prevalent factors cited by TxDOT include speeding, drunk driving, and failure to stay in a lane.
Larger vehicles, like SUVs and pickup trucks, are involved in more fatal crashes in Texas than smaller passenger cars. The weight, size, and raised front ends of larger vehicles contribute to the likelihood of those crashes being fatal.
Where do most traffic fatalities occur?
About three-quarters of crashes in Texas generally occur in cities with populations of 5,000 or more. More than half of all statewide traffic fatalities happen on rural roads, however. According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute researcher Lisa Minjares-Kyle, the high rate of fatal rural crashes is due to higher speed limits on two-way roads with single lanes and no shoulders.
“Drivers are given very little room to make any errors, yet are still doing the same things that they would be doing on the freeway,” said Minjares-Kyle.
How safe are pedestrians and bicyclists?
Getting around by foot or bicycle is less common in Texas cities. This is in comparison to other major cities throughout the U.S. The number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed in Texas crashes has increased by 40 percent within the past decade, nonetheless.
In 2018, more than 600 pedestrians were killed on Texas roads, according to TxDOT.
What are safety advocates and state agencies doing to bring down the fatality rate?
Laura Ryan is a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, which oversees TxDOT. She believes that Texas has become "very numb" to the alarming traffic fatality rate.
“This is probably one of the most deadly situations we have in the state, and it's one of the most controllable situations we have in the state. Ninety percent of the deaths that we’ve had over the 19 years are preventable,” said Ryan.
Safety advocates throughout Texas are confident that the traffic fatality rate in Texas can be significantly reduced. They believe this can be accomplished by implementing safety measures and improving infrastructure. This includes widening roads, upgrading guardrails, and making improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Blazek Crossley, executive director of Austin safety advocacy group Farm & City, endorses the Texas Transportation Commission's goal of ending all statewide traffic fatalities by 2050.
“More families suffer in Texas every day than in the rest of the country, but we believe we can change this,” said Crossley.
If you were hurt in a crash, or lost a loved one, due to another driver's negligent or reckless behavior, it's critical that you consult with an experienced East Texas car accident attorney.
For more than two decades, Athens attorney Jeff Weinstein has built a reputation for helping injured motorists throughout Henderson County seek justice, and has the case results to prove it. To get started on your claim, contact Weinstein Law for a free consultation.