The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the lives of Texans in unexpected, and unfortunately deadly, ways. Telecommuting, remote learning and online delivery have allowed millions to stay home, drastically altering the traffic patterns on some of the most congested roads in America. In Texas, the number of people driving to work decreased 35% as a result of the pandemic. A quick glance at Houston TranStar during the morning/afternoon commutes confirms this precipitous drop in vehicular traffic, as the bright reds that typically followed the paths of I-45, I-610 and I-10 have been replaced by the greens and blues indicating flowing traffic. However, despite fewer people on the roads, the number of traffic deaths in Texas has surged…and safety experts blame COVID-19 for the spike. Simply put, open roads have allowed drivers to speed at unprecedented levels. Experts at the Center for Transportation Safety at Texas A&M University specifically cite speed for the increase in fatal crashes because of its exponential function, meaning that a 10% increase in speed can result in over a 50% increase in crash severity. Illegal street racing has also flourished during the pandemic, killing innocent people and forcing the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to create a special traffic crimes unit to combat this issue. The congestion-free roads around Houston have also led to significant increases in other unsafe driving behaviors, such as distracted driving as cell phone usage is up over 38%. Sadly, more Texans were killed in automobile crashes in 2020 than in 2019. Hopefully this trend will end along with the pandemic.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 1-800-594-4884.