Can Lawmakers Make Texas Roads Less Deadly?

While traffic fatalities in Texas decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017 — from 3,794 to 3,721, a decline of 1.92% — the state still holds the disgraceful distinction of leading the nation in motor vehicle deaths.

In 2017:

  • One reportable accident happened every 59 seconds.
  • One person was injured every 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
  • One person was killed every 2 hours, 21 minutes.

Clearly, we have a long way to go in making the roads safer. If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck or you’ve lost a loved one in a collision, call the Texas car accident and wrongful death lawyers at The Evans Law Firm.

Can the Government Help Eliminate Traffic Deaths?

Lawmakers and state agencies are well aware of our dismal record when it comes to motor vehicle accidents and deaths. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has sought to bring attention to the problem with their #EndTheStreakTX campaign. Since November 7th, 2000, there has been at least one fatality on Texas roadways every day. TxDOT hopes to end this deadly streak through public awareness and social media. They’ve been encouraging citizens to tell stories of loved ones they’ve lost, disseminating shocking statistics for people to share, and educating the public about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving and how to stay safe behind the wheel.

TxDOT says it is working toward adopting a goal of zero traffic fatalities annually, but it lags behind over half of U.S. states that have already done so. As quoted in the Texas Tribune, Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of Farm & City, a nonprofit organization that heads a road safety campaign called Vision Zero Texas, said “I’ve been working on Texas transportation policy for 15 years. I am stunned and confused about the progress we are making.”

On a local level, Austin has adopted its own Vision Zero program, with the stated objective of ending road deaths and serious injuries by 2025, and other municipalities are following suit.

State lawmakers have recently introduced several bills attempting to address road safety issues.

  • House Bill 1287 would lower the speed limit on roads without speed limit signs from 30 miles per hour to 25. Currently, if a neighborhood wants to lower the limit, the city must do a traffic study. This bill would eliminate that step, saving time and money. The bill has garnered bipartisan support and has made it out of committee.
  • Senate Bill 432 would make use of electronic devices while driving illegal (unless the driver has a hands-free device). Current law forbids only texting. This proposal hasn’t gotten much traction — it’s still awaiting a committee hearing.
  • House Bill 1289 aims to increase pedestrian safety. Right now, the law states that drivers must “yield” to pedestrians in crosswalks when there’s a walk sign or no traffic light. The new proposal says drivers must “stop and yield” for pedestrians legally in a crosswalk. This bill, too, is stalled in committee.
  • House Bill 4243 would change every instance of the word “accident” in the Texas Transportation Code to “crash,” because many people believe the word “accident” suggests inevitability and fails to hold anyone accountable. This bill has not had a committee hearing.

Chip Evans has over 15 years of experience winning his clients the damages they deserve. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call the Austin car accident lawyers at The Evans Law Firm.