Distracted or impaired driving is a serious problem on our nation’s highways, and there is one area in Texas that is deadlier than most. According to a recent study, a four-mile stretch of I-35 in North Austin is the fourth-deadliest roadway in the Lone Star State.
After examining over 10,000 fatal accidents between 2017 to 2019, analysts found that there were 14 deadly crashes between the interchange at US 290 and the Yager Lane exit. This amounts to more 3.1 fatal accidents per mile, making this stretch one of the deadliest in the state.
Travis County had the fifth most fatal traffic accidents of all counties in Texas in that same time period, and with 36 deadly crashes occurring on I-35, the deadliest road in Austin. One-fourth of these accidents were due to drunk driving.
Avoidable accidents on the rise
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), distracted driving is the second highest cause of traffic accidents, causing 20% of all fatalities in 2020. The social media campaign, #EndTheStreakTX, encourages drivers to make smart choices and end the daily streak of deaths on state roadways. The last deathless day on Texas roads was November 7, 2000.
To shed light on the continuing problem, TxDOT also launches an annual Talk. Text. Crash. campaign to remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road when they are behind the wheel. Since 2017, state laws have penalized texting and driving while driving, and include $200 fines for each infraction.
The consequences of distracted driving
Distracted driving occurs when the driver’s attention is elsewhere, whether it is due to answering a phone call turning on the radio, adjusting mirrors, eating, programming a navigation system, texting or even using a voice-to-text program. TxDOT offers tips to prevent distracted driving, such as:
- Giving driving your full attention
- Pulling off the road to make a call or text
- Turn the phone off or program auto-reply texts when driving
- Tell friends and family you will not respond to calls or texts while driving
Not only is distracted driving dangerous for the driver, it can also be deadly for other drivers. If a distracted driver causes an accident that causes harm to another driver, they may be held liable for negligence. Texas follows a modified form of comparative negligence, which allows the injured party compensation based on the percentage of the damages attributable to the defendant’s negligent actions.