Drivers under the influence of alcohol and those distracted by other activities while behind the wheel now rank as the leading causes of car accident deaths in Texas.
1,330 Texas Car Accident Deaths Linked to Drunk or Distracted Driving
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), drunk driving was the leading cause of motor vehicle deaths in the state during 2020. Alcohol-related crashes were linked to 963 fatalities and 2,114 serious injuries that year alone.
Distracted drivers killed another 367 people in Texas during 2020, enough for second place. Driver inattention was also implicated in an additional 2,205 serious injuries that year.
Texas the 5th Worst State for Drunk Driving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that drunk drivers kill around 28 people every single day in the United States. An additional eight per day die because of a distracted driver.
According to driver education company Zutobi, at least 10,142 alcohol-related traffic deaths were reported nationwide in 2019. The vast majority were solely the result of drunk driving and would not have occurred otherwise. Texas recorded roughly 360 DUI arrests 7.5 drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 drivers that year, enough to earn a severity score of 69.8 from Zutobi – the fifth-worst in the nation.
No one should ever drink and drive. If you do plan to consume alcohol away from home:
- Make a plan and know exactly how you’ll get home before you start drinking.
- Travel in one vehicle when you’re heading out with friends and choose a designated driver who will not drink ANY alcohol.
- Leave your car at home and call a rideshare service to and from the bar. Be prepared by having the rideshare app downloaded on your phone and your phone battery fully charged before going out.
- Call a friend or family member for a ride if you’ve overindulged.
- If you’ve been drinking at a house party, family gathering, or holiday celebration, ask your host if you can sleep it off on their couch.
- Remember, you don’t have to drink to enjoy family celebrations or a night out with friends, especially if you know you’ll be driving yourself home.
12% of U.S. Distracted Driving Deaths Occurred in Texas
According to the CDC, distracted drivers caused 3,142 deaths across the country in 2019, including 378 in Texas. While the Lone Star State accounted for less than 10% of the nation’s total population that year, roughly 12% of all distracted driving deaths occurred in Texas.
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration defines distracted driving as any activity that takes a driver’s attention off the road. To avoid a needless tragedy, be sure to take the following precautions whenever you’re behind the wheel.
- Always give driving your full attention.
- Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk or text.
- Put your phone away, turn it off, or use an app or your phone settings to block texts and calls and/or send auto-reply texts while you are driving.
- Tell friends, family, and co-workers you won’t respond to calls or texts when you are behind the wheel.
- Remember that all distractions are dangerous, so pay full attention when driving.
“A serious or fatal crash can happen in an instant,” said James Bass, executive director of the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and a former TxDOT executive director, according to the Amarillo Globe-News “If you’re distracted by your phone or doing anything else that takes your focus away from driving, you’re putting yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road at risk. Distracted driving crashes are 100% preventable.”
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