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Coronavirus Shutdown Did Little to Slow Texas Traffic Fatalities

Texas Coronavirus Shutdown Didn’t Slow Traffic Deaths | Houston Car Accident Lawyer

While the coronavirus pandemic has kept millions of Texans at home and sharply reduced vehicle traffic in Houston and other cities, it appears the rapidly ending shutdown did little to curb the state’s high rate of traffic accident fatalities.

2 Killed on Texas Roads Every Day in March

According to The Houston Chronicle, 241 people died along Texas roads and highways in March. Although Texas car and truck accidents were down about 21% compared to last year, the  decline came as most Texans were staying at home and driving only about half as many miles as they had in March 2019.

While Harris County traffic fatalities decreased by five compared to last year, they exceeded the total for March 2018 by one. Both Dallas and Galveston counties recorded more traffic deaths this year than they had in either March 2018 or March 2019.

Midland/Odessa also experienced an increase in truck and 18-wheeler accidents, despite a collapsing oil market that has forced many drillers to shut-in their wells.

“I would have expected the number to go down more,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. “But we tend to have a bad driving culture in our region and less traffic doesn’t mean safer drivers are out, sadly. We still see people taking unnecessary trips, and the fact we are still seeing high numbers (of fatalities) is worrisome.”

Texas motor vehicle accidents killed at least two people every day this past March, suggesting even the coronavirus pandemic  will not end the state’s 19-year streak of having at least one traffic fatality every single day of the year.

Traffic Expected to Increase as Texas Ends Coronavirus Shutdown

Sherriff Gonzalez speculated that even more Texas motorists than usual have been speeding or engaging in other risky behaviors in the mistaken belief that the region’s roadways would be mostly empty during the coronavirus shutdown.

“Everybody that takes to the roadways thinks there is nobody out there and there are bicyclists and pedestrians,” he said.

“Some of the habits do not break whether there is a pandemic or not.”

While the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, Texas has begun to reopen its economy and more motorists will be taking to state’s roads and highways in the coming weeks. With models predicting an uptick in new COVID-19 infections, safe driving is now more important than ever.

“If we can reduce demand on health services that’s a really, really good thing,” said Robert Wunderlich, head of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute Center for Transportation Safety, “because it frees up capacity to treat the virus and the other illnesses that continue, and because you don’t have to choose between saving a traffic crash victim and a virus victim.”

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