Texas Road Fatalities Trending Wrong Way; 2021 to be a Risky Year for Driving

Texas Road Fatalities Trending Wrong Way; 2021 to be a Risky Year for Driving

The coronavirus pandemic has created innumerable ripple effects that continue to affect the country, as well as the world. But as the pandemic comes to an end and Texans beginning to resume their commute, another epidemic is putting them at risk: car accidents. Preliminary data based on the first five months of 2021 predicts that the state of Texas will see 4,000 road fatalities by end of year if current trends continue—a record high.

The Pandemic’s Effect on Texas Drivers in 2020

Though it was predicted that the shift to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic would help lower accident rates, that did not happen. The start of the pandemic saw an uptick in Houston car accident fatalities despite a drop in the overall number of collisions, while the statewide death toll remained consistent. As time progressed, this issue only worsened, with empty roads freeing reckless drivers up to speed.

The increase in speeding was also said to contribute to a spike in work zone crashes, with the Federal Highway Administration reporting that despite a 40% decrease in traffic in April 2020 from April 2019, several states saw an increase in fatal work zone crashes, with Texas remaining the most dangerous state for construction workers.

In addition, despite the closure of bars, lack of concerts and sporting events, and limited restaurant capacity, the number of DWIs remained steady in Houston last year. This also played into the increase in Texas road fatalities, including the pedestrian death toll, which has continued to increase. The pandemic also led to an increase in outdoor activity, and biking was no exception; however, with more and more drivers engaging in risky behavior such as speeding and driving under the influence, Houston tragically saw a record number of bicycle accident fatalities in 2020 despite the drop in traffic as well.

New Year, Same Problems

Experts were hopeful that with the end of the pandemic and the return of slower, start-stop traffic would come a drop in Texas road fatalities. Unfortunately, it appears that though Texas traffic levels are on their way back to normal, many drivers have continued to drive recklessly. Though some of the state’s fatal car accidents have likely not even been logged yet, the first third of 2021 is the deadliest that Texas roadways have seen in the past 10 years according to preliminary data from the Texas Department of Transportation.

Despite the return of heavy, start-stop traffic, drivers have continued to speed, with innocent motorists suffering the deadly consequences. In the greater Houston area, the number of road fatalities in the first four months of 2020 jumped 27%, with 1,368 fatalities in the first four months of this year. Harris County alone saw a 36% increase in the first four months of 2021 from 2020, and a 30% increase from 2019.

Houston’s “Vision Zero” Plan to End Road Fatalities

The roads of Texas have not seen a deathless day in 21 years, and Houston has been dubbed the nation’s deadliest city to drive in due to the perfect storm of a heavy suburban population, long commute times, inconsistent enforcement of traffic laws, and roadways built for speed. But city officials are working to end the 21-year streak, setting a goal to end road fatalities citywide by 2030.

The project, called Vision Zero, was commandeered by Mayor Sylvester Turner in hopes of making the city of Houston a safer place for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians alike. In 2019, he began taking input from local residents in order to best prioritize task forces and communication efforts, and in December 2020, he announced a plan of fifty action items for the city to take.

The plan consists of many long-requested safety enhancements such as bike lanes, improved signage to prevent wrong-way crashes, cable barriers on highways, and other major metropolitan updates. However, the implementation of these safety measures will take years of planning, funding, and installation before Houstonians begin to see a difference.

In the meantime, however, the roads continue to be dangerous for Texas drivers, both in and out of Houston. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that roughly 94% of car accidents are caused by human error, including driver inattention, distracted driving, speeding, reckless driving, and falling asleep at the wheel. Sadly, until Texas traffic laws are better enforced and people begin driving more responsibly, everyday drivers will continue to pay the price.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in a car accident, call our Houston Car Accident Lawyers today. The attorneys at The Callahan Law Firm have been representing people and their families for over 25 years, and they can help you too. Consultations are free, and you don’t pay unless we win. Give us a call at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here and a legal representative will get back to you shortly.