Houston car accidents occur with alarming regularity - and a new report reveals it's gotten even worse in recent years.
While car accidents may not always be avoidable (as they may happen through no fault of your own), they are almost always preventable. What we mean by this is while victims may simply be at the wrong place at the wrong time, the underlying cause is almost always due to something that could have been prevented had the other motorist exercised reasonable care.
It is important that negligent drivers be held accountable for their dangerous conduct. A Houston car accident attorney can offer you advice about your best course of action in pursuit of just compensation.
The facts about Houston car accidents
A recent report from the Houston-Galveston Area Council provides important insight into traffic accident trends in and around the Houston area. Data provided by the Texas Department of Transportation showed regional crash fatalities increased by 20 percent between 2012 and 2016. The overall number of car accidents increased by 40 percent during the same time period. Bicyclists and pedestrian fatalities also experienced dramatic increases, both nearly doubling between 2012 and 2016. Bicycle fatalities increased from 13 to 21, while pedestrian fatalities increased from 101 to 177.
Interestingly, the number of fatalities related to both speeding and DWI decreased during this same time period. Deaths related to speeding fell from 174 to 155, while deaths caused by drunk driving fell from 199 to 196. The fact that these numbers fell while overall accident and fatality rates increased suggests that targeted enforcement and public awareness campaigns are effectively reducing the frequency of both speeding and drunk driving.
Different age groups experienced different effects in fatality rates between 2012 and 2016. Traffic deaths for young drivers (aged 16 to 20) fell from 25 to 19. Meanwhile, traffic deaths for older drivers (aged 65 or older) increased by nearly 50 percent, from 84 to 120. From this single study, it cannot be determined whether the disparate fatality rates are due to greater numbers of elderly drivers on the roads of Houston, or the fact that young injury victims are more resilient and better able to recover from car accident injuries than older injury victims. The statistics could be a combination of these and other factors. What is clear is that elderly drivers seem to be at a greater risk of injury in Houston than their younger counterparts.
Texas law imposes a duty of care upon all drivers
All Texas drivers have a legal duty to exercise due care. The details of this obligation are clarified through a series of traffic statutes. For example, Section 545.351 of the Transportation Code prohibits drivers from traveling at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent for the circumstances then existing. This means that, even when a driver is traveling at the posted speed limit, he or she can commit a traffic infraction. Traffic, snow, ice, fog, and other conditions can all require the reasonable and prudent driver to slow down. If the driver does not slow down and causes an accident as a result, an insurance company or jury may conclude that he or she was negligent.
There are many potential causes and contributing factors to traffic accidents. A Houston car accident attorney can help victims assert their legal rights and access the compensation to which they are legally entitled.