The Covid-19 pandemic and its resulting stay-at-home orders and business closures have meant far less volume on Texas roads, but, strangely, the number of speed-related accidents has spiked despite the presence of fewer vehicles, which has led accident victims to wonder whether they should get an attorney after a car accident. We dig deeper into these higher crash numbers.
Main Crash Causes Before COVID
Texas has had a long history of motor vehicle accidents. Before COVID and its resulting shut-downs, the Lone Star State had maintained an egregious record: a minimum of one roadway death every day for the past 19 years1 due to the following causes.
Driving under the influence has always been at the top of the list of accident causes in Texas. Not only that, but the rate of fatalities from driving accidents due to alcohol or drugs in the state came in far higher than the national rate. Despite measures being put in place to lower accident rates among drivers convicted of DUI, they may not reduce DUI accidents in terms of first-time or repeat drivers who’ve yet to be caught.
Distracted driving has been the cause of thousands of car accidents in Houston and other Texas cities each year. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports that one in five crashes occurs as the result of distracted driving.2
What’s worse, this ratio has remained unchanged in four years. However, the Heads Up, Texas campaign aims to address the issue of distracted driving while using a mobile phone and engaging in other activity by educating the public.
Why Is Speed Causing More Crashes Now?
The state’s total crash numbers fell between March and May of this year—the same time that many residents stopped commuting from work and began to work from home instead. However, crashes caused by speeding, unfortunately, did not experience the same reduction. In fact, the instance of these crashes increased in 2020.
It has been reported that although there was a drop in traffic fatalities since Texas entered its state of emergency, speed was a factor in a larger portion of the serious crashes that occurred.
How More Crashes Are Occurring
How can the number of speed-related and other accidents possibly be increasing when there are fewer cars on the road?
More Room for Abuse
Fewer cars mean more room for drivers who want to abuse rules. Highway lanes that used to be jammed with commuters are now at a fraction of their regular volume, which has caused many drivers to be tempted to see how quickly they can get from point A to B.
Unfortunately, this trend is also occurring across the nation. Reports include individuals attempting to set travel time records by misusing highways and disobeying speed limits. This phenomenon is also occurring on residential streets, putting pedestrians, cyclists, and those riding scooters at great risk.
One fact is that, in the Houston Metro Region, far fewer drivers were ticketed for speeding during the lockdown.
Unfortunately, as the months went on, fewer speeding tickets were written. Instead, warnings and citation issuances increased. This is what many suspect caused drivers to be encouraged to take more risks while driving and to engage in activities like speeding.
Another aspect of reduced enforcement is the reality that many police stations are operating at reduced capacity due to infection rates among officers, which leaves far fewer resources for enforcement.
The fewer cars on Texas roads have led many drivers to adopt mistaken and dangerous assumptions that have resulted in lawsuits involving lawyers in Houston.
Risky Driving Is Safer
Many drivers mistakenly assume that fewer vehicles mean it’s safer to engage in speeding, and impaired and distracted driving, but the reality is that getting into an accident is just as likely to occur. A speeding, impaired, or distracted driver can just as easily become involved in a single-vehicle crash on an empty highway.
Speed Is Safer
Another assumption being made by some drivers is that the faster they drive, the safer they are. For this, we only need to look to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They say that speeding was a contributor in nearly one-third of all fatalities in motor vehicle accidents on American roads.3
Speed also affects the safety of drivers when they fail to drive according to weather conditions. Finally, the faster a vehicle is moving when it becomes involved in a crash, the more significant the injuries that vehicle’s occupants will sustain. Finally, because of higher speeds, the risk of a fatal crash also rises significantly.
It’s Okay to Be Irresponsible
Because fewer tickets are being written in Texas now, and because less enforcement due to reduced police presence on highways has been observed, it has led many drivers to assume that since they won’t be caught, it’s okay to drive without a seat belt and without regard for the speed limit and other rules of the road—yet it’s well-known that wearing a seat belt can significantly reduce the severity of your injuries if you become involved in an accident.
In addition to the above reasons that speed-related crashes are occurring in Texas, a phenomenon called the “collective effect” is another accident culprit. A driver who may normally adhere to speed limits is likely to exceed them if the other drivers on the road are moving faster.
Boredom is another suspected cause; with more Texans at home, drivers are looking for a distraction and are using driving fast as an outlet. The overall stress related to the pandemic has also been noted as probable cause for speeding-related accidents and the increased need for Houston attorneys.
Some cities like Austin have had enough of high incidences of speed-related crashes on city streets, and they are implementing measures to reduce them. On June 22nd of this year, the Austin City Council decided on a city-wide reduction of speeds on residential streets to 25 mph.
In addition, they are encouraging the Austin Police Department to give out warnings instead of citations to violators once the speed reductions have officially taken effect. They’re hoping this strategy will effect positive change in driver behavior.
Austin is also engaging in social media outreach, as well as distributing yard signs for residents in neighborhoods where speeds will be decreased. The yard signs remind drivers of the new speed limit law, and it’s hoped that this, too, will cause behavioral change.
Drivers Admit to Rule-Breaking on Texas Roads
What worsens the spike of crashes due to speed and other factors is the fact that many Texans know they are breaking the rules but continue to do so anyway. This only serves to highlight further the fact that the aforementioned causes of crashes in Texas and anywhere else in the country are completely preventable and are the responsibility of each and every driver.
Speeding at Any Time Is Unacceptable
If you were the victim of someone else’s negligence on the road because of speeding, you have an intimate understanding of its negative effects—but should you call a Houston car accident lawyer for speeding-related injuries? The bottom line is because they didn’t care about their responsibility to you while on the road, you sustained injury. That makes them potentially liable for your medical costs, lost wages, and much more.
There is never a good excuse to speed or drive impaired or distracted. If someone you love or you have been injured by another driver’s negligence, the Houston car accident attorneys at Johnson Garcia LLP can help. We have represented accident and other personal injury victims for hundreds of cases, and we won’t back down until you get the compensation you deserve. Visit our website to schedule your free case evaluation now.