According to financial advice website WalletHub, Texas ranks first on the list of best states for driving. That may come as a surprise to Texas rush-hour commuters or to anyone who’s seen the numerous studies in which the Lone Star state received poor marks for driving safety.
The WalletHub study, published in January, ranked states based on an analysis of “23 indicators of a positive commute,” and some factors were “weighted” to have a greater impact on the overall score.
Why Texas Ranked High
WalletHub’s scoring system assigned the greatest weight to two categories: average gas prices and average auto maintenance costs. Texas ranked No. 3 for lowest average gas prices, and No. 12 for lowest cost of ownership and maintenance. Texas ranked second in the category of “access to vehicles & maintenance,” which includes factors like car dealerships per capita and gas stations per capita.
In the category of safety, which includes car theft rates, poor driving behavior, and traffic fatalities, Texas ranked 23.
Studies Can Be Misleading
Research takes time and money, so studies are often limited in scope, focusing on a small set of data. And two teams of researchers could look at the same or similar data and arrive at completely different conclusions.
Just a few weeks after WalletHub published its study, CarInsuranceComparison.com released results of its study, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. That study attempted to find which states had the best and worst drivers, based on:
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Drunk driving
- Careless driving.
In that study, Texas ranked poorly – 48th, to be exact. A different study, published by CityLab, also assigned Texas poor marks. When looking at all fatalities from all causes, Texas had the sixth-highest proportion of fatalities attributable to traffic crashes, at 1.9 percent. Montana had the most (2.4 percent), and the District of Columbia had the fewest, at 0.4 percent. Nationwide, 1.3 percent of all fatalities are attributed to traffic crashes.
The CityLab study pointed out that there’s a correlation between sparsely populated states and the rate of traffic fatalities. Sparsely populated states (like Texas) tend to have high speed limits, although researchers were careful to point out that no cause-and-effect relationship has been established. Factors other than population density and speed limits may affect overall traffic fatality rates.
Texas may have reasonable gas prices and maintenance costs, but those facts don’t make our roadways safer. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, fatal traffic crashes increased by 3.59 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year, killing 3,578 people; 51.47 percent of those crashes occurred in rural areas. Traffic accidents seriously injured 17,582 people – that’s one traffic-crash injury every 1 minute and 59 seconds.
To reduce the rate of crashes and traffic fatalities, Texas drivers need to avoid driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, speeding, distracted driving, and aggressive driving.
If you have suffered a serious injury in a traffic accident, contact the Austin, TX-based Evans Law Firm. As personal injury attorneys with years of experience, we help the people of Texas put their lives back on track. We offer small law firm attention with big law firm results. Call today at (855) 414-1012 or fill out our online contact form to find out how we can help you.