Twelve-year trend of daily Texas auto accident fatalities

The last day that Texas went one day without a traffic fatality, Gladiator and Almost Famous were showing at the movie theatre, U2 had an album of the year and the Britney Spears song “Oops! … I did it again” was playing on pop radio stations. It was November of 2000.

Over the past twelve years, more than 40,000 people have lost their lives in fatal Texas car accidents. The Texas Department of Transportation cites failure to wear seat belts, drinking and driving and distracted driving as major causes for the deadly trend.

Texas struggles with a high prevalence of alcohol-related accidents. Sprawling suburbs and lack of public transportation in Houston, for instance, means more people drive home after a night at the bar. In comparison to other large cities across the nation, Houston historically has had the highest number of impaired driving deaths.

Public educational campaigns and law enforcement have targeted drunk and buzzed driving. Apparently, the message is not getting across to all drivers.

Recently, a drunk driver was sentenced in 10 years in prison for a crash that occurred in Fort Worth. The 2011 head-on collision left an eight-year-old paralyzed from the waist down. The victim’s letter read at the sentencing hearing detailed how her life changed the day of the accident. In addition to a criminal trial, families or those injured in a Texas drunk driving accident may be able to seek compensation from the negligent driver in a civil lawsuit.

Another major concern of safety advocates is the growing number of distracted driving accidents. Vehicles continue to come equipped with more distractions. Large screens on in-dash global positioning systems (GPS) utilize tablet displays similar to an iPad. These devices require that drivers take their eyes off the road when working the touch screens.

Cellphone use in vehicles is another worrying trend. Texting dramatically increases the chance of being in an auto accident. In an effort to reduce crashes, 39 states have passed distracted driving bans. Some of the laws target texting, while other states ban all handheld cellphone use while behind the wheel.

Texas has not been able to put in place legislation to combat distracted driving. In 2011, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a ban on texting while driving.

While vehicle malfunctions and roadway design still cause some accidents, the more common causes relate to driver behavior. When a vehicle travels at a higher rate of speed, the force of an impact increases exponentially.

A new toll road near Austin allows Texans to drive 85 m.p.h., which could increase the number of catastrophic injuries suffered in high speed crashes. At such high speeds, drivers must focus on the road and avoid driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

While you may do everything right, you cannot control the behavior of others on the road. An accident may happen when you least expect. The period following an accident is disorienting especially if you or a love one suffer a serious injury. If the negligence of another driver caused the accident, contact an experienced Texas personal injury lawyer. Not only can an attorney ensure that you receive fair compensation for injuries, a lawsuit may be one way to keep the same thing from happening to others.