Texas is leading a national surge in fatal car accidents, according to new data. The state reported almost 4,500 people died last year in traffic accidents, and Texas hasn't experienced that many roadway deaths since 1981. That is 12 deaths per day due to Texas wrecks. Nationwide, Texas crashes accounted for about 10 percent of all traffic deaths last year.
Fatal accidents in Wichita Falls
The greater Wichita Falls area is not immune to this deadly national trend, as fatal accidents continue to rock the community. Recent deadly crashes include:
- Earlier this month, a Wichita Falls man died in a motorcycle accident on Kemp.
- In May, a motorcycle passenger was killed in a fatal rollover accident in Clay County. Henrietta and Jolly emergency personnel responded to the Highway 287 wreck.
- Also in May, a bicyclist was killed after a pickup truck hit her at the Southwest Parkway and Sisk Road intersection in Wichita Falls.
Why are there more deadly crashes now?
Skyrocketing fatal accidents "wiped out" safe driving advancements made over the last 10 years, the Governors Highway Safety Association says.
Nationwide, almost 43,000 people died in car accidents last year. It's the highest number of fatalities since 2004. This is a more than a 10 percent jump from 2020 and the highest single year-to-year increase ever recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Analysts say the sharp rise in deaths is due to a variety of factors, including:
- COVID-19 pandemic - During the economic lockdown, studies suggest reckless drivers used less crowded streets as an excuse to let good driving habits slip. In Texas and Oklahoma, many police departments say they are seeing more speeding and less seatbelt use on the roads.
- Drunk driving - Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI or DWI) is an underlying contributor to many fatal car accidents.
- Distracted driving - On-board vehicle control systems, smartphones, cellphones, food, drinks, texting, and other activities often take a driver's focus off the road.
- Road design - U.S. roads were built for speed and to reduce vehicle congestion. Safety, say some analysts, was not a big concern. Streets often do not accommodate vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists, and other people not using motorized vehicles.
The NHTSA report painted a broader picture of the nation's spiraling fatal car accident problem, such as:
- Car accidents involving out-of-state drivers rose by 15 percent compared to 2020.
- Multi-vehicle crash fatalities went up by 16 percent.
- Pedestrian deaths increased by 13 percent.
- After years of declining numbers, fatalities among people ages 65 and older rose by 14 percent.
- There was a 6 percent rise in children under age 16 killed in crashes.
- Speeding and alcohol-related fatal crashes are up by 5 percent.
Road safety improvements
Plans to address the rise in fatal accidents are evolving. Grants and guidance to improve roadway safety is anticipated over the next two years as the federal $1.2 trillion infrastructure package is distributed to states. Among common best practices that may be recommended to reduce fatal crashes are:
- Reducing speed limits.
- Creating dedicated bicycle lanes.
- Installing more speed cameras.
- Improving street lighting.
- Adding crosswalks.
Meanwhile, the NHTSA is developing rules to require new light vehicles to be equipped with pedestrian detection systems and automatic emergency brakes. Auto brakes would also be required on heavy trucks.
When it counts the most, you can count on us
If you were injured or a loved one died in a car accident, Hoover Rogers Law can protect your rights and fight for the compensation you're entitled to. Don't put off contacting a lawyer. The sooner we can get started on your case, the better. Contact us today to schedule a free injury case consultation with an experienced car accident attorney. At no cost to you, we can answer your questions and help you weigh your legal options. Our offices are located in Wichita Falls, Texas, and Lawton, Oklahoma, and we proudly serve clients in both states.