Distracted driving, driving under the influence and speeding rank as some of the most common causes of serious car accidents in Texas.
Car crashes and other motor vehicle accidents harm hundreds of thousands of people in Texas each year. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2015, a reported crash occurred somewhere in the state once every 61 seconds. Tragically, local crash data indicates that a large proportion of these accidents may involve dangerous and completely unnecessary driver behaviors.
Driving under the influence
For years, drunk driving has represented a top cause of serious accidents in Texas. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2014, alcohol-related accidents claimed 1,446 lives. These deaths represented over 40 percent of all traffic fatalities that occurred in the state. This is much higher than the national rate of drunk driving fatalities to overall deaths, which was 30.3 percent in 2014.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas passed a law in 2015 that requires all convicted DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices. Research suggests that this may help reduce recidivism and associated accidents significantly. Still, it may not address the threat posed by first-time offenders and habitual drunk drivers who have never been caught.
Illegal or unsafe travel speeds
Speeding is also a common factor in serious accidents in Texas. The TDOT states that over 17,000 crashes that occurred in 2015 involved drivers who were either traveling at unsafe speeds or violating the speed limit. These crashes resulted in 398 deaths and over 3,300 injuries. Additionally, drivers who failed to control their speeds to avoid collisions were involved in over 30,000 more crashes, which caused over 3,000 injuries and more than 160 deaths.
Excessive speed isn't the most common cause of accidents in Texas, but it may contribute disproportionately to serious injuries and fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explains that drivers have reduced time to respond to hazards and less control over their vehicles when they travel at higher speeds. High-speed crashes also release more energy, which increases the likelihood of structural damage to vehicles, injuries to occupants and other severe outcomes.
Driver inattention or distraction
In 2015, driver distraction played a role in more than 105,000 car crashes that occurred across Texas, according to DOT data. Over 2,500 of these distracted driving accidents resulted in incapacitating injuries, and at least 10,000 more resulted in milder injuries. Tragically, 422 of these accidents claimed people's lives.
Driver distraction now plays a role in an estimated one out of five accidents in Texas, according to KXAN News. Unfortunately, attempts to enact a statewide ban on using cellphones while driving, which is a prevalent source of distraction, have now failed for several years. Some cities have enacted local bans, but these apparently have not been highly effective at reducing the state's overall rate of distracted driving accidents.
Holding reckless drivers accountable
Given these common accident causes, it is likely that needlessly risky and negligent driving habits may harm many people in Texas this year. Fortunately, the victims of these accidents may be able to seek compensation for various damages if they can establish another driver's fault in the accident. For further information, victims may want to consider discussing the accident and its consequences with a personal injury attorney.