Traffic fatalities across the United States have dropped to 36,560 in 2018 (down 2.4 percent from 2017), and are projected to have decreased even more during the first half of 2019. While this sounds like good news on a national scale, Texas has seen the opposite. The stark increase in fatal crashes and the erratic driving culture can be felt in every corner of the Lone Star State, including Laredo.
For nearly 20 years, not a single day has gone by when someone hasn't died on Texas roads, according to the Texas Tribune. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), an average of 10 people die on Texas roads each day.
Currently, the only large state that leads the nation in the number of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people is Florida. Texas comes in second place, with a rate of 12.7 per 100,000 people reported in 2018.
Here are the 2018 facts and figures
According to TxDOT:
- 3,639 people were killed on Texas roads in 2018, down 2.36 percent from 2017
- 701 occurred at intersections
- 548 involved head-on collisions
- 940 involved a drunk driver
- 398 involved a distracted driver
- More than half of all traffic fatalities occurred on rural roads
- More than 35 percent of all traffic fatalities involved a single vehicle
Out of those killed on Texas roads:
- 418 were motorcyclists
- 621 were pedestrians
- 72 were bicyclists
That's just the tip of the iceberg
According to Texas Transportation Commission member Laura Ryan, the alarmingly high number of traffic fatalities in Texas has become the new norm.
“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.
What factors have safety advocates and transportation officials identified?
Speeding is a leading factor
Speed is cited as one of the leading causes of fatal crashes in Texas, particularly due to the state's extremely high speed limits. For example, the maximum speed limit on most major roads and highways is 70 mph, but drivers may travel as fast as 85 mph on some highways.
Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths have significantly increased
Pedestrians and bicyclists are also particularly at risk in Texas. From 2008-2018, pedestrian and bicyclist deaths have increased by 40 percent statewide.
“It’s a growing problem. It is very dangerous to be in a car in Texas than in other places, but the danger of walking or biking has been increasing even more,” said Blazek Crossley, executive director of Austin safety advocacy group Farm & City.
Pickup trucks and SUVs are causing more fatal crashes
SUVs and pickup trucks have grown in popularity throughout the U.S., accounting for 68 percent of all vehicles sold in 2018. Pickup trucks and SUVs generally weigh more than smaller sedans, and thus, can inflict significantly more damage in a crash. Due to their raised front ends, larger vehicles pose a specific risk to pedestrians, greatly reducing the survivability of a crash.
Hurt in a crash? A Laredo attorney can help.
A serious crash can happen in the blink of an eye. Those who drive responsibly are often the ones who pay for someone else's reckless and negligent behavior.
That's why car accident attorney John R. Solis is dedicated to serving crash victims and their families throughout the Laredo area. To find out how he can help you maximize your compensation, contact him online and schedule your free case evaluation.