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Why Does Texas Lead the Nation in Wrong-Way Fatalities?

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In 2021, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety issued a report stating that recent research showed Texas to lead the country in wrong-way crashes resulting in death to one or more involved party. The study analyzed national traffic statistics gathered between 2010 and 2018, discovering that the state of Texas held the highest number of wrong-way fatalities of any state. Texas additionally saw a significant increase in wrong-way crash fatalities over time. The findings indicated that Texas was the site of 309 fatal wrong-way crashes between 2015 and 2018.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reported there were 3,896 motor vehicle traffic deaths in the year 2020 alone. This means that one person in Texas was killed every 2 hours and 15 minutes in 2020. It is the tragic case that most of these life-taking incidents are entirely preventable.

Let’s look at some of the factors that can lead to a wrong-way crash, so that you can be more prepared to protect yourself and the ones you love. If you have been injured in a car accident or have lost a loved one, a car accident wrongful death attorney can help protect your rights.

What Is a Wrong-Way Crash?

Wrong-way driving is when a driver directs their vehicle against the flow of traffic, facing oncoming vehicles headfirst. Wrong-way crashes can be even more devastating than other types of vehicular accidents because they involve head-on collisions.

Wrong-way vehicle crashes resulting in a fatality most frequently occur at high speeds, at night, and on highways, and often on weekends. Wrong-way collisions have also been known to occur in parking lots and parking garages, on one-way streets, and on inner-city roadways, but these types of accidents are less likely to result in a fatality.

What Factors Lead to Fatal Wrong-Way Crashes?

Based on the research conducted and analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a strong profile emerged for the driver most likely to engage in behaviors resulting in a wrong-way crash death. The driver was usually alone, driving at night, and alcohol impaired. In some cases, age was also a factor. The following three factors were found to most highly contribute to wrong-way crash fatalities:

  • Drunk Driving. Overwhelmingly, the single most significant factor leading to fatal wrong-way crashes was alcohol impairment. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) publishes a “Most Wanted List” which highlights and champions improvements needed to prevent accidents and save lives. This year, as regularly in years past, alcohol ranks at the top of the list of issues. Countless deaths can be prevented if drivers are only willing to take a stand against getting behind the wheel intoxicated.
  • Age. Older adults are statistically more likely to be involved in a fatal wrong-way crash, research found. Data showed that drivers over 70 years of age are more at risk of wrong-way driving and were overrepresented in fatality numbers, despite spending less time on the road as a group.
  • Driving Without a Passenger. Somewhat surprisingly, almost 87% of wrong-way drivers were alone. This may be primarily due to the fact that a passenger can alert the driver to oncoming vehicles. A driver’s willingness to engage in risky behavior while driving alone may have also been a factor in the analyzed cases.

Other factors which can lead to fatal wrong-way accidents include inattention resulting from fatigue and exhaustion, distraction, non-alcohol substance abuse, reckless or aggressive driving, engaging in road racing or chases, and failure to adhere to traffic laws.

Factors Specific to the State of Texas

Texas, covering 268,596 square miles of land territory, is both the second largest state by size and by population. Based on sheer numbers alone, Texas’ chances of seeing accidents and fatalities is greater than most other states. Unfortunately, an additional factor to contemplate is that Texas has consistently ranked highly on lists of alcohol-impaired driving statistics.

And when these facts are complicated by other issues which contribute to the likelihood of wrong-way crashes and vehicular collisions in general, such as high frequency of interstate and international travel, large number of major highways, and probability of local or out-of-state drivers to speed on open roadways, it is easy to see why our state’s drivers encounter dangers which others do not.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Who Cares

A car accident lawyer with experience in handling devastating vehicular accident claims like wrong-way crashes can be your greatest advocate if your life has been changed by a vehicle wreck. The Permian Basin area is filled with striking scenery and flourishing cities, but also with heavily-traveled highways that are the site of thousands of deaths every year.

In addition to doing all you can to drive safely, prevent accidents, and promote highway safety, in the event of an accident it is additionally important to know a lawyer who cares. Contact our office if you are in need of a legal advocate.

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