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How Does Texas Compare to the U.S. in Terms of Traffic Accidents?

The numbers on their own are sobering. In 2012, more people were killed on Texas roadways than in any other state. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,398 people were killed in fatal crashes in Texas in 2012. This number overshadows other states’ traffic fatality statistics. In California 2,857 people were killed in traffic accidents. In Florida, 2,424 were killed in 2012.

Yet, these numbers alone don’t take into account each state’s population. A given state’s population, types of vehicles driven, speeds, topography, and weather can all contribute to a state’s accident rate.

When one considers the number of deaths in each state per 100,000 people, the statistics change somewhat. Texas experienced 13 deaths per 100,000 people. Despite topping the list for most fatalities, when one considers Texas’s larger population, the state doesn’t seem to have the highest traffic fatality rates in the country. North Dakota tops the list for fatalities per 100,000 people with 24.3 deaths per 100,000.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publishes annual tables about national traffic fatality rates. In 2012, there were over 30,000 fatalities in the U.S. That’s about 10.69 fatalities per 100,000 people. While Texas is above the national average at 13 deaths per 100,000 people, based on other states’ rates, Texas isn’t faring too poorly.

What are some contributing factors that lead to Texas car accident fatalities?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that among the 3,398 people killed in Traffic accidents in Texas, 38% were found to have a blood alcohol level above 0.08% (the legal limit). Another 27% were found to have a blood alcohol level above 0.15%.

Another contributing factor that led to traffic fatalities in Texas was speeding. About 1 in 3 traffic fatalities occurred as a result of a driver’s choice to exceed the speed limit or drive too fast for the conditions.

Speeding is one of the leading factors resulting in accidents and fatalities in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that speeding related crashes cost society over $40 billion every year. In 2012, nationally, speeding was responsible for 30 percent of all fatal crashes.

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that one person is killed every 2 hours on Texas roadways, and one person is injured every 2 minutes. Given national and local statistics, many of these accidents could have been prevented had drivers chosen not to drink and drive or chose to obey speed limits. Another contributing factor to traffic accidents in Texas is distracted driving. While it doesn’t account for the same number of deaths as speeding or alcohol use, it results in many preventable accidents every year. In 2013, 460 people were killed as a result of distracted driving. Fortunately, the number of deaths due to distracted driving is decreasing. Laws preventing handheld cell phone use and other regulations, as well as education programs to increase awareness, may be leading to these decreases.

While Texas may seem to have high fatality rates when one considers the raw numbers, the reality is much more complex and nuanced. When one considers other states’ rates, Texas is much safer in terms of traffic fatalities per 100,000 citizens than other states.

Texas has also put into effect many safety measures to make this possible. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the state’s safety initiatives include wider traffic lanes, divided highways, dedicated left turn lanes, clearer highway signs, and improved roadway maintenance projects. These initiatives, along with the fact that more Texans have been using seatbelts (94%), all lead to safer roadways and fewer fatalities.