According to the Texas Tribune, there has been at least one traffic fatality per day in Texas since November 7, 2000. On a positive note, the statewide death toll has declined by two percent from 2016-2017, but Texas still leads the nation in traffic fatalities.
This has state officials exploring ways to bring the death toll down, including efforts made by the Texas Transportation Commission. Following a presentation from TxDOT’s director of engineering and safety operations on adopting the “no traffic fatalities” Vision Zero goal for 2050, many are hopeful the agency will work to end fatal crashes.
The Vision Zero plan was first adopted in Austin in 2016, following more than 100 traffic fatalities within that city in 2015. Other Texas cities have followed suit by focusing on improving roadway infrastructure and on better enforcement of existing traffic laws.
Efforts to reduce crash severity
In one effort to reduce the severity of crashes, state legislators are looking to lower the speed limit in residential neighborhoods and urban areas. House Bill 1287, which was filed by state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, would reduce speed limits from 30 mph to 25 mph in those areas. Any neighborhoods without speed limit signs would be set at 25 mph by default without the need for a traffic study.
“If you look at just kids who are walking and biking, more kids are hurt or killed on 30-mile-an-hour streets than any other type of street,” said Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of nonprofit organization Farm & City.
Cracking down on distracted driving
Distracted driving has also been one of the leading causes of crashes in Texas. In 2017, it resulted in more than 100,000 crashes, 2,889 injuries, and 444 deaths. Senate Bill 43, filed by state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would help reduce distracted driving crashes by making “hands-free driving” a state law.
Under the bill, all uses of an electronic device while driving would be illegal, unless you’re using a hands-free device. Your vehicle would have to be stopped outside a travel lane for you to legally use your phone with your hands. The bill is awaiting a committee hearing in the Senate.
Another proposed bill may help protect pedestrians using crosswalks. Texas law currently only requires drivers to yield to pedestrians using crosswalks when there are “walk signs” present. If the proposed bill becomes law, House Bill 1289 would require drivers to yield to pedestrians using any crosswalk.
Israel is among state lawmakers who proposed this bill.
“Because you’re in a car doesn’t give you the right to close in on a pedestrian or hurry up a pedestrian with your car bumper,” she said. “You have to stop and you have to yield."
While these laws are critical for bringing down the statewide death toll, negligent drivers will always put those on Texas roads in danger. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, don’t hesitate to speak to an experienced car accident attorney John R. Solis. He represents injured motorists in and around Laredo, Texas. Contact him today to get started on your claim.