The Texas traffic fatality rate has fallen to the lowest level ever in 75 years of recordkeeping. Road fatalities have dropped by roughly 12 percent in the span of a year, from 3,476 in 2008 to 3,071 in 2009. Houston’s eight-county region also saw a decrease in 2009 of almost seven percent.
The findings are impressive considering the increasing number of vehicles on the road due to population growth and multiple-vehicle households. Drivers are also more distracted than ever with items such as cell phones and DVD players in the car.
Reasons for the Decrease in Motorist Fatalities
There are several factors which may have contributed to making the roads safer for Texans. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration credits public awareness campaigns regarding seat belt usage, distracted driving, and drunk driving. Texas now has one of the highest seatbelt compliance rates in the nation at almost 94 percent.
New innovations are continuing to make vehicles safer. For example, cars now have “crumple zones” intended to keep the seating compartment intact during a crash. In addition to vehicles, roads are also becoming safer. During the past five years Texas has spent $1.2 billion on transportation projects that have widened narrow roads, added left-turn lanes and created more safety barriers.
Recent Texas legislation also may have had a positive impact on road safety. The Texas Department of Public Safety has counted at least 68 traffic safety laws passed during the last 10 years.
Hoping to Continue the Trend
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is working to continue to lower traffic fatalities. They recently launched a campaign during football season to raise awareness about game day drinking and driving. According to TxDOT over 30 percent of traffic fatalities in 2009 were cause by drivers under the influence of alcohol. The rate particularly increases on weekends and on football game days. Hopefully statewide awareness initiatives such as this will continue the downward trend in Texas traffic fatalities.
While the decrease in traffic deaths is laudable, every traffic fatality or injury is one too many. If you or someone you love has been injured in an automobile accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and help evaluate any potential claims.