Leading Causes of Death on Texas Roadways

San Antonio Texas Car Accident Attorney - George Salinas

According to 2017 figures provided by the Texas Department of Transportation, someone within the state died in a motor vehicle crash every two hours and 21 minutes. In one year, 3,721 people lost their lives on Texas roadways, and there were no days in the entire year in which there wasn’t a traffic fatality. What types of accidents where the leading cause of death on Texas roadways? Read on for more information.

The Single Vehicle Crash

More than 35 percent of all motor vehicle traffic deaths in 2017 were the result of single vehicle crashes, the state Department of Transportation reported. These types of crashes resulted in the deaths of 1,313 people during the year. Additional facts about single vehicle crashes, as provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal:

  • The are two types of single vehicle crashes: Run off the Road (ROR) crashes and on-road (OR) crashes.
  • Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in ROR crashes than sober drivers.
  • 90 percent of single vehicle ROR crashes feature a driver who was speeding at the time of the crash. This type of single-vehicle collision is more common on roadways with higher speed limits.
  • Curved road segments are the most likely place for a ROR crash, with RORs accounting for more than 90 percent of all curved-road crashes.
  • ROR crashes account for more than 80 percent of all rural road crashes.
  • ROR crashes occur more frequently at night than they do during the daytime hours.
  • Vehicles with high occupancy—two or more passengers—are more likely to be involved in ROR crashes than those with only one occupant.

Driving Under the Influence

About 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in Texas involve a driver who was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash, and alcohol was a contributing factor in the traffic-related deaths of 1,024 people, statewide, in 2017. According to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 29 people die every day in the United States in motor vehicle crashes involving a driver impaired by alcohol. In 2016, 10,497 people were killed in car crashes that were caused by alcohol impairment, which is 28 percent of all crash fatalities nationwide.
  • Drugs other than alcohol contributed to about 16 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2016.
  • About 13 percent of nighttime and weekend drivers have marijuana in their system.
  • Marijuana users are about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than those who don’t have marijuana in their system.
  • Just two alcoholic drinks will cause a decline in visual functions needed for driving, including rapidly tracking a moving object, as well as a decline in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time. It takes about four alcoholic drinks to reach the legal limit for driving, and at that point, several important functions needed for driving are impaired, including concentration, short-term memory, speed control, perception, and information processing capacity.
  • Among drivers with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit of 0.08 percent who were involved in fatal crashes in 2016, nearly 30 percent were between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • Drivers involved in fatal crashes that were driving over the legal blood alcohol content limit are 4.5 times more likely to have a prior conviction for driving under the influence as drivers who did not have alcohol in their system.


Failure to control speed was the cause of 500 fatal crashes in Texas in 2017. Nationwide, in the same year, nearly 10,000 people lost their lives due to crashes in which speed was a factor, the NHTSA reported. Speeding accounts for more than a quarter of all fatal crashes in the United States, and is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in both single-car and multi-car crashes. Here are more facts about speeding:

  • Speeding has been involved in about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities in the past two decades.
  • Speeding doesn’t just involve driving over the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for the road conditions.
  • Speeding reduces the effectiveness of a vehicles occupant protection equipment in a crash. It also reduces the driver’s ability to keep the car under control, increases the distance that a driver needs to come to a safe stop, and increases the severity of the crash.
  • Speeding is considered an aggressive driving behavior. Some of the factors that cause drivers to speed include traffic congestion, running late, the anonymity that makes a driver feel more at ease about aggressive driving behaviors, and a habitual driving behavior stemming from a disregard for others or for the law.
  • In 2016, 32 percent of male drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 who were involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time. Young males represent the largest demographic of speeders.
  • Speeding drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2016 were more than twice as likely to be alcohol-impaired at the time of the crash than those who were not speeding at the time of the crash.


Distractions are also a major contributor to fatal crashes in Texas, resulting in 70 fatal crashes in 2017 in which the cause was listed as “distraction in vehicle” and another 294 fatal crashes in which “driver inattention” was the cause. Nationwide, distracted driving resulted in the deaths of 3,450 people in 2016, according to statistics provided by the NHTSA. Other facts about this leading cause of traffic fatalities include:

  • There are three types of driver distraction: Manual distractions that take the driver’s hands from the steering wheel; Visual distractions that take the driver’s eyes off the road; and cognitive distractions, that draw the driver’s mind away from the task of driving.
  • Texting while driving is particularly dangerous, as it is a manual distraction, a visual distraction, and a cognitive distraction all at the same time. In Texas, in 2017, 24 fatal crashes were caused by texting and driving. Dozens more were caused by general cell phone use, including talking on the phone, checking email, or browsing the internet.
  • During daylight hours, approximately 481,000 people nationwide are using their cellphones while driving.
  • Other distractions that drivers must contend with include distractions from passengers or pets in the car; people, other cars, or events taking place outside of the car; the controls for vehicle systems including air conditioning or the stereo; eating or drinking while driving; or even daydreaming.

Call Us if an Accident Killed Your Loved One

Regardless of the cause, if you have been involved in, or lost a loved one to, an accident caused by someone else, you may be entitled to compensation. Let us help you understand your legal options. Contact us today at The Law Offices of George Salinas online or by calling (210) 225-0909.