What are the leading causes of car accidents in Texas?

Motorists in Texas should be familiar with some of the top causes of car crashes in the state, which include distracted driving, intoxication and speeding.

Each year, thousands of car accidents occur in Austin and other parts of Texas. In 2014, a reported crash occurred somewhere in the state every 68 seconds, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. The same year, 17,152 people suffered severe personal injuries in these crashes, and 3,534 people lost their lives.

Sadly, many of these motor vehicle accidents involve preventable mistakes or behaviors on the part of drivers. To reduce their risk of accidents, motorists in Texas can benefit from understanding and avoiding these common and preventable causes of crashes.

Speeding

Speeding was one of the most prevalent contributing factors in the accidents that occurred in Texas in 2014. The TDOT reports the following data on speed-related accidents:

  • Over 28,683 crashes involved drivers who failed to control their travel speed.
  • Another 15,303 crashes involved drivers who were traveling at unsafe speeds.
  • In 954 cases, drivers were exceeding the speed limit at the time of the crash.

These speed-related crashes are especially likely to cause harm to drivers or other road users, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Besides making accidents more likely, speeding raises the amount of energy that must be released in the crash, which increases the likelihood of catastrophic injuries. Tellingly, in 2013, more than one-quarter of the fatal accidents reported across the U.S. were speed-related.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is also a prevalent cause of accidents in Texas. As The Dallas News notes, Texas is just one of six states that hasn't yet elected to ban texting. Although handheld cell phone use is prohibited in school zones, for novice drivers and for bus drivers, the use of cell phones is otherwise permitted. Not surprisingly, many of the state's accidents involve cell phone use or other forms of driver distraction.

In 2014, the TDOT only identified cell phone use as a factor in 1,163 accidents. However, this form of distracted driving is notoriously under-reported, as authorities often must rely on drivers to admit that they were texting. "Inattention," which may encompass a wide variety of distracted driving behaviors, was a contributing factor in 19,933 accidents.

Driver intoxication

Impairment from drugs or alcohol is another common cause of car crashes in Texas. In 2014, more than 7,000 crashes involved drivers who had been drinking or were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident. Additionally, in 1,318 crashes, drivers were under the influence of drugs.

Fatal drunk driving accidents represent an especially serious problem in Texas. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, in 2014, a total of 1,446 people suffered fatal injuries in alcohol-related accidents. This figure, which represents 40.9 percent of all lives lost during car accidents that year in Texas, significantly exceeds the national rate of 30.5 percent.

Recourse may be available

When other drivers cause crashes while engaging in these reckless behaviors, accident victims who have been left injured may have legal remedies. Since all of these common accident causes may be considered negligence, the at-fault drivers may be found liable for any injuries or deaths that they cause. Even if victims contributed to a small degree to the accident, they are not precluded from seeking compensation.

For further information, accident victims may want to discuss their legal options with an attorney. An attorney may be able to offer advice on documenting the circumstances of the accident and seeking an appropriate amount of compensation.