According to the Texas Department of Transport, there were 208,000 crashes on the roads of the Lone Star State in 2020 – a significant increase over previous years. This is the case despite there being far less traffic on the roads for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic lockdown measures. Emergent statistics from the first half of 2021 indicate that this trend of increasing danger on the roads is continuing. This is a serious problem. Traffic accidents are one of the most common causes of death for people aged between 1 and 50 in the USA. What, then, are the causes of this Texan accident boom, and what can be done about it?
Early in the lockdown, it was clear that some people had changed their driving habits. Speed-related accidents increased, as did distracted driving-related accidents. Seatbelts were worn less. All of this has contributed to the increased number of accidents in the state. Anybody buying car insurance in El Paso TX, or any other Texan city will have noticed increases in charges related to the general increase in accidents on the road. Everybody loses when accident number increase.
Speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence remain the most common causes of accidents in the state of Texas.
There have been many proposed solutions to the rise in vehicle accidents in Texas – and indeed around the United States during 2020. Texas is one of the most lenient states in the country when it comes to enforcing traffic safety. It is one of the only states that does not have a distracted driving law preventing people from using mobile phones on the road. Putting a law in place to stop drivers from using phones at the wheel may prevent accidents, but it would certainly rub some Texans – famous for their distrust of big government – the wrong way. It would certainly be worth rubbing people the wrong way to prevent accidents, but politicians, unfortunately, have votes to protect.
Smart roads may be one solution to increasing accident figures. Smart roads are essentially connected roads: vehicles, road sensors, and traffic control elements all communicate and share data in order to improve road safety. A huge amount of investment is being made into smart roads all around the world.
Regardless of the solutions to the sheer number of accidents, the fact remains that some crashes are inevitable. Preventing serious injury and death during crashes is one of the most challenging tasks for the Texas Department of Transport. There is one factor in many of the road fatalities that can and should be rectified: a huge quantity of the fatalities on Texas roads befell people that were not wearing seatbelts. While it is true that seatbelts can cause secondary injuries in car crash victims, they are also extremely good at preserving those same people’s lives. According to the CDC more than half of the fatalities on the road in the United States involve people that were not wearing their seatbelts. Seatbelts also reduce the likelihood of serious injury during a crash by about 50 percent.
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