Year after year, Texas continues to rank as one of the most dangerous states for drivers. But why? A report by Car Insurance Comparison analyzed accidents and fatalities across America. In 2018, the report found that Texas came in at number nine for the worst drivers in the United States. This is an improvement from three years earlier where the Lone Star state grabbed the top spot. The report indicates that 90 percent of all traffic deaths come down to one thing—human error. While not all accidents can be avoided, understanding the most common causes of collisions in Texas can help keep you safe the next time you hit the road. If you or a loved one has already suffered from an accident, don’t hesitate to speak to an San Antonio auto accident attorney about your legal options.
Speeding Is the Leading Cause of Collisions in Texas
It probably comes as no surprise that speeding is the number one cause of collisions in Texas. According to the Department of Transportation, over 138,000 accidents were caused by failure to control speed. Despite increased enforcement, drivers continue to drive over the speed limit every day.
In Texas, the state uses prima facie speed limits. Where some states use absolute speed limits that punish drivers for driving over the posted limit, prima facie limits allow drivers to prove that the speed they were driving was not unsafe. The state is also home to the highest speed limit in the country, with an average speed limit of 78.3 miles per hour with some interstates allowing speeds up to 85 miles per hour. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has found that higher speed limits lead to more fatalities.
But it’s not just Texas. Speeding is a leading cause of collisions nationwide. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding was the contributing cause of 26 percent of all traffic fatalities, leading to 9,717 deaths nationwide.
The Dangers of Speeding
There’s no question that speeding is dangerous. An IIHS study showed that increasing the speed limit by just 5 mph increased the rate of fatalities by 8 percent. As speed increases, so does the likelihood and severity of an accident. There are several reasons why speeding is dangerous, including:
- Increased stopping distance: The faster a vehicle travels, the longer it takes for it to stop. Increased stopping distance means that a driver might not have enough time to stop if the car in front of them suddenly stops or if a child or animal enters the roadway.
- Increased severity of impact: When a person drives at a faster speed, they increase the amount of energy in their vehicle. During an accident, this energy is absorbed by the vehicles in the accident. The greater the amount of energy, the greater the severity of the accident. High-speed accidents increase the risk of serious injury or fatality.
- Decreased control of the vehicle: Higher speeds make it more difficult for a driver to control their vehicle. This is especially dangerous when a driver tries to navigate a curve. This can lead to a collision or cause the car to roll over.
- Diminished effectiveness of safety devices: In the event of an accident, a driver relies on seat belts, airbags, and road barriers to protect them from injury. These safety devices can only withstand certain speeds. When a driver exceeds these speeds, the effectiveness of safety devices decreases.
Other Common Causes of Collisions
While speeding ranks as the top cause of collisions in Texas, thousands of accidents happen across the state due to other circumstances. Some of the leading causes of accidents include:
Ranking just behind speeding, driver inattention comes in as the second leading cause of accidents in Texas. One in five accidents in the state is caused by distracted driving. In 2018 this equated to more than 95,000 accidents. Texas has made an active effort to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving.
In 2017, the state made it illegal to read, write, or send a text message while driving. While mobile devices are the most common cause of distracted driving accidents, driver inattention includes any activity that takes a driver’s attention away from the road. Common examples include eating while driving, adjusting the radio, or distractions from passengers.
Thankfully the state has seen a decrease in drunk driving-related fatalities in the past few years. However, drivers continue to get behind the wheel intoxicated. Drunk driving can lead to serious injuries and can often result in death. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their life. Driving under the influence decreases a driver’s reaction time, reduces a driver’s ability to concentrate, and impair judgment.
Failure to Yield
Thousands of accidents happen every day when a driver fails to yield the right of way. These accidents most often occur at a stop sign or traffic signal. When a driver fails to yield the right of way it can make it difficult for other drivers to stop on time.
Available Compensation After an Accident
An accident can affect you physically, emotionally, and financially. A personal injury claim can help you recover costs associated with an accident and allow you to focus on your recovery. Some of the most common costs included in a personal injury claim include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
Know When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
A car accident can frighten anyone. It’s not abnormal to feel confused, scared, or anxious about the future. Following an accident, the only thing you should have to focus on is your recovery, not worrying about your finances. If you have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible for compensation. If you have questions about a recent accident or need help establishing a claim, speaking to a car accident lawyer can help you understand your rights.