Even though many people stayed home during the pandemic, 2021 was one of the deadliest years on record in Texas and across the country. It would be logical to expect that since there were fewer drivers, that there would have been fewer deaths. Sadly, the reverse has proven true. There are many reasons for the increase, which will be re-evaluated as the data for 2022 becomes more substantial. As the pandemic seems to have subsided. It is expected that there fewer will drivers on state and federal roads in 2022.
How many fatal accidents happened in Texas in 2021?
According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and KXAN Austin, 2021 was the second-deadliest year in Texas. More than 4,480 people died in traffic crashes, the most since 1981 when there were 4,701 fatalities. Texas has been keeping traffic fatality data since 1940, though the data was not readily available before 2003.
The fatality rate for 2021 is 15 percent higher than for 2020. When population adjustments are made, the 2021 total is the highest since 2005. In 2021, there were 15.16 traffic fatalities for every 100,000 people. By comparison, the 1981 rate was more than 31 deaths per 100,000 people.
For 2021, the leading cause of traffic deaths was speeding. Nearly one-third of all fatalities were due to speeding. More than 1,200 people who died, according to TxDOT, were not wearing a seatbelt. In total, driving the speed limit and wearing a seatbelt could have potentially saved 2,741 lives, according to Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan.
The Texas Department of Transportation said that some of the safety measures that the state is reviewing include:
- Funding traffic safety campaigns
- Law enforcement grants
- Studying and implementing new road design features
TxDOT is also studying crash data to focus on locations that have higher frequencies of crashes, with the aim of developing safety and engineering measures for those locations.
The terrible reality is that at least one person has died in a car accident in Texas – each and every day – for the past 21 years. The last day without a fatal Texas motor vehicle accident was November 7, 2000.
Did nationwide fatal accidents increase in 2021?
Yes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed that 2021 was a very deadly year for drivers across the country as well. The agency estimated that 31,720 people died from January through September 2021 – a 12 percent rate increase from the first nine months of 2020. The 12 percent rate was the highest percentage increase for the first nine months of a year since the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) began keeping traffic data.
The rate increase varied among the states. Some states, according to Consumer Affairs, reported significant decreases in traffic fatalities for 2021 from prior years.
What are some of the reasons for this increase in traffic fatalities?
According to Austonia (an Austin, Texas publication), the number of car accidents may even be fewer than in prior years – but the crashes appear to be deadlier. Some of the causes, in addition to speeding, include distracted driving and failure to yield.
Distracted driving includes texting while driving, holding a smartphone, eating or drinking while driving, looking at a GPS system or an entertainment system, and looking at other passengers while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous because drivers don’t have their minds on traffic, their hands on the steering wheel, or their eyes on the road.
Another cause of increased fatalities is drunk driving. Coping with the pandemic was difficult for many people, increasing the risk of impaired driving. Drunk drivers are dangerous because they weave in and out of lanes, speed, drive through stop signs and red lights, and fail to follow the local traffic laws.
Police Chief Joseph Chacon and Austin Transportation Department transportation planner Joel Meyer said that changing traffic patterns may be another reason for the increased death rate. “Fewer people on the streets, fewer trips or less traffic has actually led to more opportunities to speed, which is the number one contributing factor to those severe crashes.” Meyer added that rapid growth in Austin may be another factor.
What can I do when a loved one is killed in a Texas car accident?
At Slack Davis Sanger, we understand how traumatic the death of a loved one is. We represent the families of drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders killed by negligent drivers. The family members who are entitled to file a wrongful death claim and demand damages include the spouse, the children, and the parents.
The damages in a Texas wrongful death claim generally include:
- The amount of earnings that the decedent would have made had he/she lived.
- The loss of support, guidance, services, and advice the loved one would have provided each family member.
- The mental pain and anguish of the surviving family members.
- The loss of companionship, society, and love the decedent would have provided each family had the loved one survived.
- The funeral and burial expenses.
If the accident was willful or due to gross negligence, we may also file a claim for punitive damages. For example, if the death of your loved one was due to drunk driving, that may justify a claim for punitive damages.
At Slack Davis Sanger, our Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth car accident lawyers work with investigators, the police, and traffic experts to help prove a driver was negligent or that a defective vehicle part caused the death of a loved one. We work with professionals who are skilled at determining your loved one’s life expectancy, your financial losses, and the value of all losses caused by the death of a spouse, son, daughter, father, or mother. To talk with an experienced wrongful death lawyer/car accident lawyer, call us at 888-340-4028 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.