Motor Vehicle Accidents

Pedestrian risks in Texas

People in Texas should be able to trust that they are safe when crossing a street, walking from their parked car through a parking lot, or going out for their daily run or dog walk. Sadly, these very basic activities of a person’s daily life may find them in one of the most dangerous positions as they must navigate a sea of vehicles. 

State sees surge in pedestrian deaths 

Records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that the number of pedestrian deaths in Texas increased during the decade spanning from 2009 to 2018. In 2009, there were 350 recorded pedestrian fatalities, representing just over 11% of the total vehicular deaths that year. In 2018, there were 612 pedestrian fatalities, representing almost 17% of the total vehicular deaths that year. 

Travis county rate of pedestrian deaths greater than state 

In Travis county, the reality on the streets for pedestrians appears to be even more grim that it does across the state as a whole. In 2014, the county experienced 12 pedestrian deaths, representing 12.6% of all vehicular fatalities. In 2017, 24 people on foot were killed in vehicular accidents, accounting for 20% of the county’s accident deaths. The next year saw 36 pedestrians lose their lives in accidents, representing more than 30% of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes. 

If you would like to learn more about how you or someone in your family may get the assistance needed after being hit on foot by a car, truck or SUV, please feel free to visit the pedestrian injury and crash page of our Texas personal injury and motor vehicle accident website. 

Slow driving can be dangerous

Slow driving can pose a danger on Texas highways and roads. While people may think first of how excessive speed contributes to severe car crashes, drivers operating their vehicles too slowly can also cause accidents, road rage incidents and other threats. There are a number of reasons why slow driving is dangerous. In the first place, it is safer and often required by law for cars to pass on the left. On a multi-lane road, a slow driver blocking the left lane may send many cars to pass on the right, significantly elevating the risk of a catastrophic accident.

In other cases, drivers may turn the corner and expect to drive at a reasonable rate of speed, only to catch up quickly to a slow driver. They may be unable to stop in time in case of an emergency ahead, which could potentially cause a domino effect of rear-end collisions. Just like speeding, driving too slowly is often illegal. People who drive under the minimum speed limit specified for a stretch of road may face a ticket if stopped by the police.

There are several factors that can contribute to excessively slow driving. The danger posed by distracted driving is well-known, but slow driving may be another issue. People who are surfing the internet or texting behind the wheel may fall out of sync with traffic, lingering on the road and creating traffic jams. Senior drivers with visual problems may be likely to drive at a dangerously slow speed, as may new teen drivers who are still uncertain.

Driving too slowly is a form of negligence that can cause serious injuries if it leads to a motor vehicle accident. A personal injury lawyer may help people hurt in a crash to seek compensation for their losses.

Even drivers who are not drunk can be dangerous

woman in brown leather jacket giving a police officer her licenseIn Texas, like most other states, the legal blood alcohol limit when driving is .08. However, alcohol is still a factor in many car crashes even when there is not a driver who is legally drunk. Lower amounts of alcohol can still inhibit a person’s reflexes and elevate the risk of an accident. The risk is even more pronounced when dealing with younger drivers.

Some states are beginning to change their laws in order to lower the legal blood alcohol level. Utah was one of the first states to make this change, dropping the blood alcohol limit down to .05. Other states are beginning to follow suit, and the results are that the number of alcohol-related crashes in those states has declined. Drivers who have had anything to drink are a risk to other drivers on the road. In fact, 15% of road fatalities in this country over a 15-year period resulted from accidents where the driver was not legally drunk, but alcohol was a factor nonetheless.

Even if a driver has had one drink and is involved in an accident, they may still be legally responsible for that accident because the alcohol caused them to be negligent in some way. The alcohol can be a determining factor of who is responsible for the accident and might lead to compensation for you if you have been involved in an accident with a driver who was drinking but not drunk.

If you have been involved in an accident with a driver who made a mistake behind the wheel, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. You may want to ask a personal injury attorney to advise you of your legal rights. They might then help you file a claim for compensation and negotiate a settlement if it is possible. If no agreement can be reached, the attorney may take your case to court and litigate.

Most U.S. adults uneasy about self-driving car technology

Drivers in Texas and across the U.S. are largely uneasy about traveling in a self-driving car. This is the crucial finding of a AAA study conducted in January 2020. It can prove educational for automakers and prompt them to give clearer, more tangible information with regards to self-driving vehicle technology.

Only 12% of survey respondents said they would feel safe in a self-driving car. Respondents gave their opinions as to what would make them feel safe: 72%, for example, said they would feel safe if the car let them take control in an emergency while 69% said they would want a human back-up driver in every self-driving car. Forty-seven percent would feel safer if a vehicle had passed rigorous testing while 42% said the same if they saw or participated in a safety demonstration.

The survey revealed what sort of things drivers want to know before getting in a self-driving vehicle. Fifty-seven percent wanted to know who would be held liable in a crash involving such a vehicle. Fifty-one percent were curious about what laws would be instituted to ensure safety in these vehicles. Forty-nine percent wondered how easily the vehicles can be hacked.

Self-driving cars are decades away from becoming an everyday reality. Still, AAA hopes that automakers will find better ways to connect with potential consumers.

Drivers should be aware that some car collisions involve semi-autonomous vehicles. Studies have shown how advanced driver assistance systems are causing inattention behind the wheel as drivers overly rely on these features, thinking that they make a car self-driving. Those who are injured at the hands of a distracted driver may file a claim because it’s clear that the other party was being negligent. They may want a lawyer to help them gather proof against the defendant.

Reminder: Look twice, save a life

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, on average, one motorcyclist dies on Texas roads. In 2018, 920 motorcyclists sustained serious injuries in collisions, while 417 lost their lives. In more than half of all motorcycle accidents, another car is involved. The reason many drivers cite for the incident is, they simply do not see the motorcycle. Lack of visibility due to congestion, distracted driving and the small frame of motorcycles gave way to Texas’s “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign.

The campaign has led to a drastic reduction in preventable motorcycle fatalities each year. Even, with months of good weather up ahead, it is always a good idea of drivers to brush up on tips for sharing the roads safely with motorcycles.

First and foremost, drivers should always look twice for motorcycles, especially at intersections. When changing lanes or turning, drivers should check their blind spots and use their turn signals. If a driver sees a motorcycle approaching in the rearview mirror, he or she should always assume it is closer than it appears.

Drivers should give motorcyclists a full lane, as they would to any other vehicle. They should maintain a safe distance between themselves and leading motorcycles, and follow posted speed limits.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed model language for states to use in their driver’s manuals, safety education courses and driver training materials regarding sharing the road safely with motorcyclists. Though Texas adopted some of the language in its campaign, there are a few tips worth mentioning that the campaign does not.

The NHTSA encourages all drivers to remember that motorcycles are vehicles and, as such, operators enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other driver on the road. It also informs drivers that turn signals on motorcycles are often not self-canceling, so a driver should wait to see an operator’s actual intent before proceeding.

Finally, road conditions that seem minor when in a standard vehicle may pose significant hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may need to adjust their speed or change positions to react accordingly to hazards along the road, including gravel, potholes, wet payment, railroad crossings, pavement seams and grooved pavement.