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Is Texas Doing Enough To Prevent Motor Vehicle Accidents?

It's been over 12 years since Texas went a day without a fatal accident occurring on some part of its 80,000 miles of highways and byways, according the Texas Department of Transportation. That is at least part of the reason that Texas recently ranked near the bottom of a survey of highway safety improvements conducted by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

The Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws compared the passage of 15 pieces of motor vehicle safety legislation across all 50 states. Texas was missing over half of the surveyed safety measures. According to the study, almost $20 billion is annually lost due to Texas motor vehicle accidents.

According to the study, Texas is missing key legislation that could help prevent serious or fatal injury in motor vehicle accidents related to:

  • Impaired driving: Require ignition interlock devices for all first time drunk driving offenders,
  • Inexperienced or teen drivers: Raise the minimum age for receiving a learner's permit to 16 and the minimum age for receiving unrestricted driving privileges to 18, require 30-50 hours of supervised driving once the learner's permit is obtained; place restrictions on driving at night and the number of passengers a teen driver may transport
  • Distracted driving: Eliminate all texting while driving
  • Motorcycle accidents: Require all riders to wear a helmet at all times

According to the report, more than 3,000 people were killed in fatal Texas car accidents in 2011 and more than 30,000 over the last 10 years.

Source: Houston Chronicle, "National road safety report shows Texas lacks key laws," January 15, 2012

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