Texas Fatal Crashes Continue to Rise

02/13/2017

Texas highways continue to be a deadly form of travel as traffic crashes involving injuries and fatalities continue to rise.  There were 3,400 fatal crashes on Texas highways in 2016 and 175,000 injury accidents.  (See charts below)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed Texas had the highest number of traffic fatalities of any state in 2015.  The NHTSA statistics also show Texas leading the country in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities with California coming in a distant second.

 These statistics reflect a disturbing trend in Texas, as traffic injuries and fatalities have increased more than 20 percent in the past six years.   2011 appears to have been a turning point when traffic crashes ended a decades-long decline and began increasing dramatically. 

 With increased safety features on vehicles, you would guess that injuries and fatalities should be decreasing, so why aren’t they?  Law enforcement officers say unsafe speed, alcohol, lack of seatbelt use and distracted driving are all playing a part in the state’s traffic injuries and fatalities.

Senior Police Officer Don Egdorf, of the Houston Police Department Traffic Enforcement Division, says distracted driving and impaired driving are the two biggest factors in the increase in fatal crashes.  “There are no excuses for impaired driving,” said Egdorf.  “There are too many affordable options out there for anyone to drive drunk and distracted driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving.”

Adding to those factors is the fact that Texas is unique with higher speed limits in parts of the state, a growing population, a healthy economy and low gasoline prices.  This places more drivers on our roadways and more opportunities for major traffic mishaps to occur.

In addition, nationwide, traffic fatalities have begun to rise with a noticeable increase in automobile passenger deaths as well as motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians.   NHTSA statistics show that almost half of the automobile passengers killed were not wearing seat belts. 

 With the increase in crashes, there is also a corresponding need for vehicle repair and replacement, and in some cases, costly medical bills after an accident.  This, along with weather related losses, has contributed to upward pressure on rates in some areas of the state.

“Unfortunately, for some Texas consumers, auto insurance rates may be affected by the state’s rising number of traffic mishaps,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas.  “Medical care after an auto accident, and repairing or replacing vehicles loaded with the latest software, may impact rates for some.  Thankfully, a good driving record, taking advantage of any discounts offered by insurers, and researching the many companies who do business in Texas, will help Texans find affordable rates among the more than 100 companies that offer auto insurance in the state.”

The charts below show the rising number of crashes involving injuries and fatalities in Texas from 2003 through 2016.  The actual number of people killed and injured in these crashes is higher.  Last year, 3,390 traffic crashes resulted in 3,757 fatalities and 175,347 traffic crashes resulted in 263,536 people injured.