Recent studies from the AAA Foundation revealed that Texas has more fatal car crashes each year than any other state. Why are serious crashes in Texas so prevalent when compared to other states? How can Texas drivers avoid becoming victims in one of these crashes?
Attorney Seth Anderson of Anderson & Cummings talks about the leading causes of serious and fatal crashes in Texas and what drivers can do to help prevent them.
Injured by another driver’s negligence? If so, seeking legal help soon after your collision is critical and may help ensure you get full and fair compensation for your injuries. We recommend trusting our law firm with your Fort Worth car accident case. We have decades of experience and have recovered over $100 million in compensation for our clients.
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WHY DOES TEXAS HAVE MORE FATAL CRASHES THAN ANY OTHER STATE?
SNN News reported back in March 2023 that Texas is number one for crashes causing drivers and occupants to sustain severe or fatal injuries.
To give you an idea of how many crashes this entails and how those numbers compare to the rest of the U.S., Texas had more than 1,000 traffic fatalities just during the first quarter of 2022. According to SNN, this is more than a tenth of all the traffic fatalities that have occurred across the country.
The Lone Star state has about 350,000 car crashes every year. The common response to why Texas has so many fatal crashes is that it is the largest state and therefore has a larger population and therefore, more drivers. However, this is not the sole reason for the number of dangerous crashes.
WHAT ARE THE LEADING CAUSES OF CAR CRASHES IN TEXAS?
Let us look at some of the leading causes of fatal car crashes in Texas, many of which could easily have been prevented:
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI)
Drivers who choose to operate their vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and other substances put others at risk. The NHTSA reports that drunk drivers in Texas and nationwide cause about 30 percent of all fatal collisions in the U.S. with a BAC of .08 or higher. DUI crashes commonly happen at night and in the early morning hours.
SPEEDING/IGNORING POSTED SPEED LIMITS
Ignoring posted speed limits is another common cause of fatal crashes in Texas, and this type of negligence causes about 25 percent of all fatal crashes in Texas. That is about 82,000 needless crashes every year. Speeding not only decreases the likelihood that a driver will have time to respond to a road hazard, but it also increases the force at impact and therefore the amount of damage sustained. Unfortunately, high-speed crashes are significantly more likely to be fatal, especially if the vehicle is larger and heavier, such as an SUV, utility vehicle or semi-truck.
DISTRACTED DRIVING BEHAVIORS
Texting and driving crashes are still the leading cause of driver inattention. However, there is a surge of distracted driving crashes in Texas due to taking videos and selfies while driving, using in-car entertainment, adjusting GPS settings, or even just having conversations. There are too many distracted driving behaviors to name them all. The fact is that anything that takes a driver’s mind and eyes off the road increases the risk of a serious or fatal collision.
Too often, drivers taking a left turn ignore Texas right-of-way laws. Violating these traffic laws puts occupants of oncoming vehicles, along with pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, at risk for serious or fatal harm. Texas has more than 21,000 left-turn crashes every year, resulting in about 100 fatalities during that time.
EVASIVE DRIVING CRASHES
What is evasive driving? Evasive steps are the actions drivers take when they are trying to avoid a crash.
For example, if a driver in the lane next to you merges in front of you without signaling or checking traffic properly. You might slam on your brakes and swerve to avoid a rear-end crash.
Unfortunately, depending on the weather and many other factors, wildly swerving and slamming on brakes could also cause a crash. Drivers taking faulty evasive actions might swerve too hard, lose control of their vehicles and end up in another lane or in oncoming traffic. Either scenario could result in a serious crash. More than 19,000 crashes caused by faulty evasive driving happen every year in Texas.
UNSAFE LANE CHANGES/UNSAFE MERGING
Unsafe lane changes or lane merges are another common cause of crashes in Texas. These incidents happen when other drivers recklessly move into another lane of traffic, increasing the risk of a crash and putting others in harm’s way.
HOW CAN DRIVERS PREVENT BEING INVOLVED IN A TEXAS CAR CRASH?
Regardless of where you are driving, taking a defensive approach to driving is important. What this means is to stay aware at all times, expecting there are going to be drivers who violate the laws and who choose to drive unsafely. Driving defensively can go a long way to helping you to prevent a crash or avoid becoming a victim of a crash with a negligent driver. This means:
KEEPING BOTH HANDS ON THE WHEEL AND IN THE 9 AND 3 POSITION
What does this mean? Specifically, it means two things. One, you should keep both of your hands on your steering wheel at all times. Two, you should always keep both hands placed in the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions. This is strongly recommended and also statistically shown to help drivers maintain consistent control of their vehicles. Driving with one hand at the bottom of the steering wheel, while a common method many drivers use, is unsafe. In fact, using only one hand in any position is a bad idea.
Having both hands on the wheel in this way helps you maintain control and have more time to react to a road hazard. If something happens and both hands are not already on the wheel, you could quickly lose control of your vehicle and crash.
AVOIDING DRIVING IN THE LEFT (FAST) LANE
Driving in the far right lane may be out of the question for many drivers who want to avoid getting behind someone going too slow. However, getting in the far left lane is more dangerous. More aggressive drivers ride in this lane, and you will likely have many coming up on your tail, either trying to push you to drive faster or get out of their way. Driving in the center lane, when there is one, is typically a far better place to be. It also makes it easier to position yourself if you have a turn coming up on either side of the road.
CONTINUOUSLY MONITORING THE ROAD
One really good reason to stay alert and constantly monitor the road ahead of you and even behind you is to watch for road hazards. A road hazard might be an object in the road, but it could also be an aggressive driver coming up on your tail. If you are looking down at your phone, fiddling with your vehicle controls or looking at your child in the back seat, you could be too late to avoid a crash.
FOLLOWING TRAFFIC LAWS
This might seem like an unnecessary statement to make, but we can all use a good reminder now and then. As a driver, you owe a duty of care, not just to yourself, but to any passengers and to others sharing the road.
If you speed, drive while intoxicated, race through a red light or try to beat oncoming traffic to make a left turn, you could cause a serious or fatal car crash.
INJURED IN A TEXAS CAR CRASH? CONTACT ANDERSON & CUMMINGS TODAY
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