Are Roads in Texas More Dangerous Than in Other States?

Texans were in for some less-than-flattering headlines at the close of 2016, due to a recent study that put them atop a list. Normally, topping a list is a good thing, but not when it ranks the safety of drivers.

Using information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Car Insurance Comparison compiled a list of the states with the “worst drivers” in the country. They found that Texas tied Louisiana for top billing in the list. The group said that their criteria included road fatalities, drunk driving, speeding and careless driving.

Are Texas roads really as dangerous as studies like the one above would lead you to believe? Numbers from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety might provide some insight. In 2015, Texas led the nation in the number of fatalities. However, when factoring that number based on population, several other states proved to have a higher rate of road deaths. A similar trend can be noted when it comes to drunk driving fatalities and deaths related to lack of seatbelt use.

Why Are Texas Roads so Dangerous?

While the rate of fatalities per driver aren’t quite as bad as in many other states, it is still worth asking why we have so many vehicle-related deaths in Texas. Some of it can be explained by the fact that Texas has the second-highest population in the country, behind only California. But another population-related factor might also be making an impact.

More Americans are now moving to Texas than any other state in the country. This population growth, while good for many reasons, causes some problems. For example, a population boom can mean more people travelling roads that aren’t built to handle the higher volume of travelers. This causes more traffic congestion and, thus, more crashes.

There are also other explanations. Texas is in the bottom half of states in the country when it comes to drunk driving prevention. Texas also ranks highly in the annual number of motorcycle deaths. These are just a couple of the several factors contributing to the high number of road fatalities in Texas.

It’s Not Just a Texas Problem

The numbers were bad for all Americans in 2016. The year before saw the largest increase in the number of auto fatalities in nearly five decades. Though the numbers have yet to be released for last year, early projections signaled that the jump could be even more dramatic in 2016. Some experts cite distracted driving as the main culprit, while others point out that the increases are likely tied to economic factors, such as lower unemployment rates.

Whatever the cause might be, all of us should make road safety a top priority in the year to come. Texas is still hoping for a day without a road fatality, which it hasn’t had since November of 2000. Some safety advocates believe that automation in vehicles might forge a path ahead that is safer for motorists, but for now, we are still dependent on ourselves and those we share the road with to improve our situation.