Texas Traffic Is Down… But Our Roads Remain Dangerous & Deadly. Why?

Texas Traffic Is Down… But Our Roads Remain Dangerous & Deadly. Why?

In recent months, Houston, Austin, and the DFW areas have all seen a decline in traffic. 

With many of us self-isolating, ordering in, and skipping our commutes as we work from home, driving during a pandemic is an avoidable activity. Some car insurance companies are even offering refunds or discounted premiums during this time.

So why have Texas road fatality statistics stayed practically the same?

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the numbers and the possible reasons behind them.

The death toll for Texas car accidents is one we are all too familiar within our industry. In fact, the Texas Department of Transportation’s #EndTheStreak campaign exists to combat a grim fact: there has not been a death-free day on Texas roads since November 2000

On average, ten people die in car crashes every day in Texas. (Results are slightly skewed as well: some victims survive the crash but die in the hospital days later from their injuries.)

Ever since coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders took effect, Texas traffic has decreased by approximately 50%. But between January 1st and April 15th, 2020, the number of car crashes only dropped between 11% – 15% compared to the same time period in 2019 in the Austin, Dallas Fort Worth, and Houston metros, according to recent data analysis conducted by Community Impact Newspaper

For example, here in Houston, Harris County alone had 32,096 car crashes between January 1st and April 15th of this year. During the same time period last year, there were 36,816 car crashes. That’s only a 13% percent drop. 

Why doesn’t the large drop in traffic correspond to an equally significant drop in accidents?

It all boils down to our behavior. Sure, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) encourages all drivers to wear seatbelts and obey speed limits, but is this enough?  

Each year, the causes of tens of thousands of accidents are classified simply as “driver inattention.” Many preventable errors like swerving, weaving, drifting out of lanes, and tailgating are all found to be factors contributing to traffic deaths in Texas.

Plus, we’ve got a lot on our minds these days. We are more prone to distraction. We are more tempted to check that new text message that just dinged on our phone, thinking it could be a family member in crisis. 

Some drivers might not have been behind the wheel at all during these last several weeks – especially if a different family member had been appointed to go on grocery runs. Joking aside, we might actually be forgetting how to drive! Getting reacclimated can be difficult, especially at a time like this when many of our minds and bodies are already in a panicked state. 

We might even be feeling a little emboldened. The lack of other cars on the road might have some of us thinking “anything goes,” but now is not the time to go on a midnight joyride or do donuts in that Costco parking lot… no matter how much you need to blow off some steam.

 

Defensive driving and road safety tips apply now more than ever. Below are some rules and recommendations everyone should brush up on before they buckle up:

Always use your blinkers

when passing and turning, even if you think no one is behind you. If you’re about to pass an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road, Texas state law requires you to move over one lane or reduce your speed to 20MPH below the posted speed limit.

Come to a complete stop and look both ways

before entering intersections. Be on the lookout for bicycles and motorcycles.

Leave plenty of space

Social distancing recommends keeping six feet apart from others on foot, but remember to give all vehicles – especially large trucks – some breathing room, too! Every vehicle has blind spots, and lingering in them could be deadly. 

Road construction has not stopped

At any given time, there are as many as 3,000 active work zones in Texas. Exercise an extra dose of caution and slow down when passing road work crews and construction zones. Be aware of blocked-off roads or redirected lanes and detours.

Don’t text and drive

This one’s common sense. Texting and driving is illegal in Texas. A first offense is punishable by a fine of up to $99, and any subsequent offense carries a fine of up to $200.

Don’t drink and drive

You might not think this one applies, what with bars in Texas remaining closed until further notice and many of us snuggling up with our wine bottles at home. But in case of an emergency that requires you to go elsewhere, always have a designated driver.

Don’t drive if you’re tired

Everyone’s sleep schedules are unbalanced these days, with one day blurring into the next in quarantine. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re feeling sleepy. You could become another statistic. In 2018, nearly 10,000 Texas car accidents were attributed to drivers being either fatigued or asleep.

Have an errand? Don’t make it a family affair

Fewer passengers means fewer distractions… and fewer risks for fatalities. If your family needs to stock up on household essentials or pick up a takeout order, send one driver – not the whole brood – to handle these errands. This also minimizes your risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Don’t get stranded

The sad truth is, current precautions and social distancing measures mean people are now less likely to stop and help you if you’re stranded on the side of the road. If you have to go out, expect the unexpected. Make sure you are equipped with a full tank of gas, spare tire, jumper cables, and the knowledge to use them. You can also go all-out and put together a complete roadside emergency kit.

“Should I travel during the coronavirus disease outbreak? What travel precautions should I take during the coronavirus disease outbreak?”

With over 25,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in Texas and over 660 deaths, we’re not out of the woods yet.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend those crossing state lines should remain quarantined for 14 days after arriving at their destination. Air travel and cruises put you at far higher risk than driving. Put simply, nonessential travel should be avoided.

What next?

On Monday, April 27th Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced his plans to allow businesses to reopen at limited capacity. This news means more drivers will be back on the road… but the streak of daily Texas car accident deaths is one norm we don’t want to return to.

In short: it is every Texas driver’s responsibility to make better decisions. Look out for your fellow Texan.

TxDOT says it best: “Be safe. Drive smart.

Hurt in a Texas car accident? Help is here.

If you were injured in a car accident, our Houston car accident lawyers are here for you.

Getting into a car accident now is even more stressful than usual. Bills are piling up, you may not have health insurance or steady income, and you may not know how to pay for medical care. 

We understand, and we’re here to help. 

Call us now at 713.804.7675 or submit your questions here for a free consultation. Get informed about your options. You might not know about all the compensation you’re entitled to, but it’s our job to!

What to Do After A Fender Bender

What to Do After A Fender Bender

4 Steps to Follow When You Get in a Fender Bender

Don’t surrender or lose your temper when a fender bender has rendered you injured!

…Did we lose you already with that tongue-twister? No? Great! Because we have some vital information that could help you.

Car accidents, no matter how minor, leave you feeling shook. With all the stress and shock swirling around in your head, it’s hard to know exactly what to do after a fender bender. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports over 6 million traffic accidents each year in the United States, with 40% of them involving rear-end collisions. In fact, the National Safety Commission estimates that a rear-end collision happens every eight seconds. With stats like that, everyone is bound to get in a fender bender eventually.

What is a fender bender? Fender benders commonly occur in intersections, parking lots, or even drive-thrus. These mishaps usually involve being rear-ended and warping the bumper, fender, or frame of your car, hence the name. But don’t let that cute name fool you. Fender benders can seem unimportant compared to the more tragic car accidents you may see on the highway, but they’re not just an inconvenience that makes you run a little late for work. 

They can have hidden complications and serious consequences for both your body and your vehicle.

Below you’ll find important info related to these risks, plus recommendations on what to do in a fender bender.

 

1. Determine Liability

Determining liability means figuring out who to blame for a car accident and why they were legally at fault.

The person who hit you is probably eager to dodge hefty insurance rates, which go up after an accident. They may try to offer you cash in exchange for agreeing not to file a claim against them.

We all want to see the best in people, but let’s be real: it’s not wise to trust a total stranger who just hit your car. You should always call the police. You should always exchange insurance information, and use your phone to snap pictures of their license plate, license, and the damages.

If you are in a fender bender with a commercial vehicle, the company that owns the vehicle may be responsible for your damages.

Additionally, rideshare companies often have insurance, so if you’re in a fender bender with an Uber or a Lyft, you can seek compensation.

If the other driver fled the scene or you cannot get in touch with them, there’s still help available. Consult a car accident attorney to learn about your options. 

Don’t let someone else’s carelessness leave you in pain after a car accident.

2. Get Checked for Physical Injuries

Even if you walk away from the scene of the accident feeling fine, you need to be evaluated by a doctor. Aches and pains might take days to appear, but they could follow you for the rest of your life if they’re not treated properly and promptly. 

Common injuries after a fender bender include:

  • Wrist or arm injury: When your hands are on your steering wheel – where they should be! – your wrists and arms absorb a lot of the impact of a fender bender. Wrist and arm injuries may need surgery or physical therapy and may prevent you from returning to work or doing the things you love. 
  • Airbag injury: If your airbags deploy, they may end up harming you in their attempt to protect you. Sometimes the force of an airbag can even break bones!
  • Brain injury: Traumatic brain injuries can happen in the blink of an eye, but their impact on your life can be devastating. Severe cases of whiplash can actually cause your brain to hit the interior of your skull. You may also hit your head on your steering wheel or dashboard.
  • Back injury: The impact of a car accident can cause your spine to compress or misalign, which can get severely painful. You may even be left temporarily bedridden. 
  • Soft tissue injury: Sometimes called “whiplash,” these are the most common injuries in fender benders. They’re also more serious than you think. Many soft tissue injuries require medical attention, physical therapy, and visits to a chiropractor to alleviate the pain. 

The good news is that rear-end settlements can be substantial, especially when injuries are involved.

3. Evaluate Property Damage

When you get into a minor accident, you might think you can skip the auto shop. You may assume your accident will be labeled “low impact,” or the damage to your car can be dismissed as “cosmetic” or “superficial.”

However, serious vehicle damage could result from a fender bender – meaning you could be stuck in serious trouble.

Just like how you could underestimate your physical damage after an accident, you may think you only have a scratched bumper or cracked taillight when you actually have a car with alignment issues, frame damage, or axle problems that could cost thousands to fix

If someone backed into the front of your car, you likely have damage to your grille. (Grille damage accounts for more than 20% of all auto accident damage.) Control arm bushings or joints could also be damaged. 

Delicate electrical components are often knocked out of whack in fender benders too, causing problems with your wiring or battery. You could also face damage to your trunk or trunk latch or issues with your transmission or suspension.

Alignment problems can cause uneven tire tread wear, requiring a costly set of replacements. Your axis caster angle or tire camber could be thrown off. If you’re car-savvy enough to know what this means and how to fix it, good for you. But many drivers aren’t so lucky – and the person who hit them could be miles down the road before they notice the true extent of the damages.

Underlying issues like these not only cost you money, they put you and your passengers in danger. With so many potential hidden concerns, you can’t know for sure until you get your car checked out by a professional.

When it comes to car trouble, prevention is the cure. A tiny bit of damage can snowball into a major complication if you don’t catch it in time.

Insurance companies also have time limits for reporting accidents. Err on the side of caution and call in your claim as soon as the fender bender happens, because, by the time the body shop gives you an estimate for your repairs, it may be too late to file your insurance claim.

Don’t gamble with your life. 

Have your car – and yourself! – thoroughly checked out after a fender bender. (By a mechanic and a doctor, respectively. Unless you’re a cyborg. Then you just need the one.)

If you’re worried about paying for these services or feeling overwhelmed by the complicated process of filing an insurance claim, we can help. In fact, many collision repair shops work directly with lawyers and insurance companies. Which brings us to our next step… 

4. Consult A Car Accident Attorney

Many people hesitate to get a lawyer involved in their case, but remember: just because you have a meeting with a car accident lawyer doesn’t mean you have to hire one! Many car accident attorneys offer 100% free case evaluations. The advice they provide can be crucial. You might not know all of your options, but it’s their job to!

Know your rights and make an informed decision about your next steps.

Contact one of our car accident attorneys today to receive expert legal counsel about your fender bender, absolutely free.