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What Are The Leading Causes Of Car Accidents In Texas?

The Leading Causes Of Car Accidents In Texas

Texas saw a staggering rise in the number of deaths from car crashes in 2021. The number represented the highest increase compared to the previous 18 years, and the economic losses totaled over $50 billion for the first time.

Travelers have a right to enjoy safe roads, but making that truth a reality requires defensive driving. The first part of driving defensively is understanding and avoiding common dangers. Learn the top causes of motor vehicle accidents in Texas.

Neglecting To Stay in One Lane

Drivers may dart between lanes seeking to get ahead in traffic. The danger increases when motorists fail to use a turn signal in anticipation of a lane change or drift across multiple lanes. Cutting across multiple lanes is not just dangerous; it’s illegal.

Often the reason behind such maneuvers is poor planning because a person is running late or did not plan a trip well and makes last-second decisions. Staying safe means checking mirrors and blind spots before merging. Once a driver enters a new lane, the vehicle should remain there for about 300 feet before changing again.

Taking Faulty Evasive Action

Defensive driving requires constant alertness. Remaining aware of fellow drivers can mean safely evading an erratic fellow traveler. When another driver, cyclist or pedestrian creates a hazard, drivers may panic and can swerve into other vehicles. The result of overreacting can be a worse crash.

Motorists can prepare to evade hazards by keeping a safe distance from other drivers and practicing good scanning habits. Watching for brake lights or signs of impaired drivers can help a person anticipate and avoid danger. Drivers who overreact may find themselves liable for damages in an accident.

Failing To Control Speed 

Driving over the speed limit is not the only consideration by police when determining the cause of an accident. A person may not be going over the posted speed limit but could be driving too fast for conditions. A person might also neglect to decelerate before an impact, worsening the crash.

Section 545.351 of the Texas Statutes addresses maximum speed restrictions and dictates that a motorist may not travel faster than is reasonable under existing circumstances. Drivers must control the speed of their automobiles to prevent a collision.

When a driver receives a citation for failure to control speed, the ticket could be evidence to prove liability in a civil personal injury case. Though the fine typically only goes up to $200 in Texas for failure to control speed, the negligence could result in thousands of dollars in claims by the injured party.

Fatigued Driving

Sleepiness can have similar impacts to the influence of alcohol or drugs. A person with too little sleep has a slower reaction time and is less observant. The problem is rampant as people burn the candle at both ends, working and caring for other responsibilities. The CDC finds that 1 in 25 adult drivers report falling asleep while driving in the previous 30 days. Many more people admit to driving while dealing with sleep deprivation.

Motorists should only operate a vehicle when sufficiently alert. Courts can find a drowsy driver negligent and liable for damages after an accident.

Making Unprotected Left Turns

Left turns expose a vehicle to traffic from all directions and put a car into the path of oncoming automobiles. Drivers may rush to turn during a brief yellow light and make an unsafe decision.

Left turns are so dangerous that some researchers argue for abolishing them. The idea springs from statistics that indicate that 61% of crashes in the country result from left turns. The likelihood of eliminating left turns is low, but understanding the dangers can encourage drivers to be more cautious at intersections where they have to turn left.

Distracted Driving

Almost 20% of accidents on Texas roads resulted from distracted driving. Of those incidents, 2,934 people experienced severe injuries, and 431 died in 2021. In response, the Texas Department of Transportation runs an annual campaign they call “Talk. Text. Crash.”

Texting and messaging are not the only culprits of distracted driving. A person on the run may be eating, grooming, adjusting a radio, watching a video, programming a navigational system or conversing with a fellow passenger.

Distractions involve more than taking eyes off the road. The Centers for Disease Control acknowledge three types of distracted driving:

  • Visual distractions refer to not watching the road.
  • Cognitive distractions involve looking at the road but mentally drifting and not paying attention.
  • Manual distractions are when people take their hands off the wheel.

The fine for writing, sending or reading a text in Texas is up to $200, but a person whose negligence leads to an accident could lead to substantial bills in a civil suit. TxDOT encourages all drivers to eliminate distractions and discourages the hands-free operation of a device.

Some individuals, such as drivers under 18, school bus drivers carrying children and drivers with learning permits, may not use a device in any capacity while operating a vehicle. These facts highlight the need for conscientious driving at all times and not letting one’s guard down.

Drunk and Drugged Driving

Any controlled substance that alters the brain can lead to unsafe driving. Alcohol plays a role in nearly three traffic deaths every day in Texas. Thousands receive serious injuries because of impaired drivers. These types of accidents are preventable, and the responsibility for such collisions lies with drivers using alcohol irresponsibly.

Drugged driving is a related offense to watch out for. Some drivers may be under the influence of illicit substances, but the same can apply to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Recent numbers show that millions of people admit to driving after using illegal drugs. Over 22% of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for substances that can impair driving.

The use of substances can alter attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, perception and mental processes. Drivers who intentionally abuse drugs, alcohol or medication before operating an automobile are negligent and liable for damages after accidents.

Driving Aggressively

Defensive driving does not mean aggressive driving. All travelers should share the road. However, drivers experiencing frustration or in a hurry often fail to yield and create other dangerous circumstances. A driver may tailgate, brake check and commit other unsafe actions.

Drivers should remember the dangers that can occur when driving aggressively. When an aggressive driver is nearby, sometimes the wise decision is to let the person pass or find another route to avoid unnecessary danger.


Speeding is a classic cause of accidents. People may find it interesting that speeding is not the most common reason behind collisions in Texas, but it still contributes to numerous crashes.

Speeding is easy to do when a person is running late or surrounded by other drivers traveling too fast. Individuals who are familiar with local roads can find it easy to let their guard down as the speedometer rises while traveling.

Drivers should remind themselves that the higher one’s speed, the slower the reaction time. Road planning committees carefully review conditions to determine what speeds are safest, so obeying the posted signs is optimal in most cases.

Calling a Legal Firm for Help After a Car Accident

Taking to the road always involves some risks. While safe drivers can avoid making the preceding mistakes, other drivers will not always be so careful.

If you have an accident and need an experienced lawyer to help you fight for justice, turn to Fielding Law. Contact us for a free case evaluation to start on the path to recovery.