The number of traffic deaths across Texas and the rest of the U.S. continues to soar as America emerges from the pandemic and traffic levels return to normal. In the first six months of 2021, traffic fatalities increased by 18.4% across the nation.
Safety experts blame risky behavior by drivers, which increased during 2020 but have not subsided. Many deadly wrecks are the result of speeding, drunk or distracted drivers. Texas has the highest number of fatalities of all states so far in 2021, with 3,642 as of Nov. 4.
A deadly record continues in the Lone Star State
The last day that Texas didn’t report at least one traffic death was Nov. 7, 2000 – 21 years ago. Distracted driving continues to be a primary cause of highway deaths, and safety experts say the rise of smartphones is the main reason for the steady increase of this dangerous activity.
So far this year, The Texas Department of Transportation reports 92,570 traffic accidents related to distracted driving, more than half resulting in serious injuries or death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says eight fatal crashes each day in the U.S. involve a distracted driver.
How are drivers distracted?
Anything that takes your attention away from driving can be a distraction, such as checking your phone, texting, emailing, using a navigation system, eating or changing the radio station. The three main types of distractions are:
- Visual: Anything that makes you take your eyes off the road.
- Manual: Removing one or both hands from the steering wheel.
- Cognitive: Thinking about anything other than driving.
The CDC’s most recent stats show distracted drivers injured 400,000 people and killed over 2,800 in 2018. About one of every five people who died were not in vehicles but were riding their bikes, walking or were otherwise outside a vehicle.