In Texas and many other states, the law requires drivers on multi-lane highways to use the left lane only for passing. The intent of the “Texas Slowpoke Law” is to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes and ensure the smooth flow of traffic. But it’s not uncommon to see motorists tooling along in the left lane on highways.
The Texas Department of Public Safety dedicated a day in 2013 to enforcing the left-lane law, mainly to raise awareness of its existence. State troopers issued warnings or tickets to motorists who were staying in the left lane instead of using the left lane to pass.
Texas DPS Sgt. Gordon Schneider told the Houston Chronicle that “a rash of road-rage incidents” had been attributed to people who were driving well below the speed limit while in the passing lane.
Austin Traffic Fatalities Report Reveals Contributing Factors
On Oct. 14, the Austin Police Department issued a news release about the 82nd traffic fatality of 2015. It was the 74th fatal crash since Jan. 1 – nearly double the number of fatal crashes measured in the same period last year.
Police want to understand why fatal crashes have increased in 2015, so they’re taking a closer look at contributing factors. APD’s recent Traffic Fatalities Brief reveals some insights about the 76 fatalities that occurred between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31.
Methodology and Commonalities
The APD report studied characteristics of each person found to be at fault for a fatal crash, regardless of whether that person survived, along with incident characteristics for three types of fatalities: pedestrian, motorcycle and motor vehicle.
In all three types of fatal crashes, the person …
Each year during the third week of October, school districts around the country observe National School Bus Safety Week, which this year is Oct. 19-23. Many people may think school bus safety is an issue primarily under the control of bus drivers, but other motorists play a big role in the safety of school bus occupants, too.
Distracted or excited children entering or leaving school may not always be aware of danger in the streets. That’s why fines for traffic offenses are higher in school zones. Too many antsy drivers, however, blow through school zones with no regard to posted speed limits.
Texas law requires drivers to stop when approaching a stopped school bus with flashing red lights. The law is in place to protect children boarding or departing a school bus, but some drivers seem more concerned …
In August, Austin’s exasperated police chief called for change, following another deadly wrong-way crash. The driver – who had a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit – survived, but her passenger died the next day from her injuries, and another motorist died at the scene. It was the 65th fatal crash in Austin in 2015.
Chief Art Acevedo told TV station KVUE that juries need to be tougher on drunk drivers, and bartenders who over-serve customers should be held accountable. He urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drunk driving and the dangers of riding with a driver who has been drinking. He asked people to call the police if they witness a bartender serving an obviously intoxicated patron or if they see drunk drivers on the roadways.
Just six days later, Acevedo was …
During a recent morning rush hour in Allen, Texas, a man fired a gun at a driver in front of him, because she had allegedly cut him off in traffic. He fired four shots – through his own windshield – that pierced her back window, and one of the bullets grazed the woman’s dashboard. Neither driver was injured, and police later arrested the man.
This incident is an extreme example of “road rage” – a problem that’s becoming increasingly common, especially in and around Dallas. It begins with aggressive drivers, and when they lose their temper, they may become involved in deadly altercations with other drivers.
Often, people who are prone to aggressive driving become more agitated when stuck in traffic. They may follow cars too closely, weave in and out of lanes, cut off other drivers, or pass other …
Car seats are designed to keep children safe in motor vehicles, but in order to be effective, they must be installed properly and be the right size. Seats that aren’t secured or are the wrong size can put children at risk of injury.
In Texas, the law requires children to be secured in car seats or booster seats if they are 8 years old or younger. However, age is less important than a child’s size, when it comes to determining what type of car seat they need. For example, a child who’s 3 years old and therefore legally able to be placed in a forward-facing car seat might need to ride in a rear-facing seat, if he’s small for his age.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends the following general guidelines for restraining children in cars:
Many drivers have had the unnerving experience of driving behind a truck that unexpectedly drops debris. It could be a gravel truck that sheds a pebble just large enough to crack your windshield, or a semi-trailer that suddenly sheds its cargo, creating a roadway obstacle course.
Trucks carrying unsecured loads can cause minor dings and dents, along with serious injuries. But it’s not just big rigs that are causing unsecured-load injuries. Many overloaded pick-up trucks, along with cars carrying improperly secured items, are responsible for these types of crashes.
Keeping Drivers In-Check
Every state has a statute regarding unsecured loads. In Texas, it’s illegal to carry loose materials – dirt, gravel, and trash, for example – without enclosing it in some way. Fines for violation of this law could be between $500 and $5,000.
The Federal Motor Carrier …
Riding across an open field in an all-terrain vehicle can be a great way to unwind on the weekend. But it’s also an activity that can cause serious injuries for children. On June 11, 2015, an ATV accident in a Chambers County pasture killed two children. The four-seat ATV was carrying six people – all between the ages of 5 and 16 – when it rolled over. The 5-year-old boy died at the scene, and his 7-year-old sister died the next day. A week later, in Brazoria County, a 12-year-old boy died when he lost control of the ATV he was driving and crashed into a tree.
Tragedies like these are becoming too common. And not just in Texas. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2013, 99,600 people nationwide were treated in emergency rooms because of ATV-related injuries…
All too often, we see stories about tragic crashes caused by drunk drivers. It’s hard to say why people decide it’s OK to drink and drive. Maybe they don’t realize they’re intoxicated, or they overestimate their own ability to drive while under the influence. But when bartenders recognize that a patron is intoxicated, they may be able to prevent that person from driving drunk.
What the Law Says
Texas law forbids the sale of alcohol to people who are obviously intoxicated to the point that they pose a danger to themselves or others. A bartender or bar-owner that violates that law could be found liable, if a patron causes a crash after leaving a bar.
In 2012, a jury found a Texas bar 75 percent liable for a drunk driving crash, ordering the owners to pay $2.05 million in damages. …
There’s a reason Starbucks is so successful: Many people rely on coffee to get through the day, because they aren’t getting enough sleep. But while caffeine may increase alertness for a short time, it’s no substitute for a good night’s sleep.
Without adequate sleep, people may become clumsy, forgetful, irritable, and they may have impaired reaction time and concentration. People who go to work tired often make careless mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes can have serious consequences.
In 2004, about 60 miles north of Dallas, a tired truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, and his rig crossed a median and struck two vehicles, killing 10 people. Sleep deprivation was also cited as a factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, in Middletown, Penn. And insomnia is the cause of 274,000 workplace accidents and mistakes …