The number of fatal car crashes has risen in Texas for the sixth consecutive year, and authorities say alcohol and distracted driving are to blame.
According to the Insurance Council of Texas, there were 3,400 fatal traffic accidents on Texas highways in 2016, and 175,000 accidents resulting in injuries. The number of fatal crashes is now more than 20 percent higher than it was just six years ago. In fact, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that Texas had the highest number of traffic deaths of any state in 2015.
Alarmingly, the rise in deadly traffic crashes comes even when new technologies such as anti-lock brakes, rear-view cameras, traffic sensors, and other enhancements have greatly improved auto safety.
The year 2011 was a turning point for Texas. After decades of steady declines, traffic deaths took an upward turn and have not fallen back since. Texas now leads the nation in drunk-driving fatalities by a long shot, with California – the most populated state – a distant second.
Distraction is also a main cause for the upward trend. With more and more people relying on smartphones for entertainment, social media, navigation, and more, distracted driving is reversing decades of improved highway safety ushered in by anti-drunk-driving and safety belt campaigns, not only in Texas but across the U.S.
Lack of seatbelt use and unsafe speeds are other contributing factors for the rise in Texas traffic deaths. Combine all these elements with high posted speed limits, a strong economy, low gasoline prices, and a growing population, and a clearer picture of the problem forms.
The rise in automobile deaths is accompanied by a rise in motorcyclist, bicyclist, and pedestrian fatalities – a trend that is not unique to Texas but is occurring across the country.
“Unfortunately, for some Texas consumers, auto insurance rates may be affected by the state’s rising number of traffic mishaps,” Mark Hanna, spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas, said. “Medical care after an auto accident, and repairing or replacing vehicles loaded with the latest software, may impact rates for some.”
Source: Insurance Council of Texas