Over the last decade, the number of Americans killed while walking increased by 35%, and 2016 was the deadliest year for pedestrians since 1990. According to the "Pedestrian Danger Index," created by Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition, Texas is ranked as the eighth most dangerous state for pedestrians. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there were 619 pedestrian fatalities in Texas during 2018.
Earlier this month, a California appeals court held that Apple Inc. was not liable for a fatal automobile accident involving a driver who was using the FaceTime application on his iPhone at the time of the crash. The accident occurred on December 24, 2014 on Interstate 35W in Denton County, Texas. Bethany and James Modisette along with their two daughters were stopped on the highway due to police activity when Garret Wilhelm crashed into the Modisette's vehicle at a high rate of speed. Wilhelm reportedly told police that he was using the FaceTime application on his Apple iPhone 6 Plus at the time of the collision. The entire Modisette family sustained injuries and one of the daughters, aged five, subsequently died in the hospital.
In 2017, Gabriela Torga, then 23 years old, was driving just after 5:00 in the morning when she veered from the left lane to the right shoulder. She overcorrected, slid counter-clockwise, hit the median and then slammed into a tree. She did not survive the crash. No one can definitively say whether Ms. Torga's cell phone was connected to the crash, but police say when the accident occurred, her phone was on and open to SnapChat and she was driving 55 mph in a 45 zone.
Pedestrian fatalities have risen 46 percent since 2009 while overall traffic fatalities are up only 11 percent. Many experts agree that distraction is a factor in pedestrian crashes and that combating both distracted driving and walking would help reduce the number of incidents, injuries, and deaths.
On Saturday, June 2, 2018, a man was attempting to find parking in a crowded parking lot in Northwest Houston. As the man pulled a U-Turn in the Bear Creek Islamic Center parking lot, he inadvertently ran over a child. It appears as though the child was sitting in the parking lot just outside the playground area.
On Thursday, October 27, at approximately 10 p.m. the driver of a Jeep vehicle crashed into the back of a Houston Fire Department truck on the East Freeway in Houston. The accident happened while the Houston firefighters were clearing a minor crash from the road.
According to a recent study funded by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study, drivers using in-vehicle technologies such as touch screens and voice commands take their eyes and mental focus off the road and hands off the wheel for potentially dangerous periods of time. The technology, referred to as infotainment technology, allows drivers to use touch screens or voice commands to provide directions, play music, and place phone calls, among other options. Many of the latest systems also now allow drivers to perform tasks unrelated to driving like surfing the web, checking social media, or sending a text message.
It's no secret that Houston roads can be hazardous. Making matters worse is the fact that Houston roads are becoming more congested as the population swells. With this increasing congestion comes an increase in crash rates. A recent report from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) examined data regarding traffic crashes in the region over a five year period.
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety rates state traffic laws across the United States in 15 separate categories, such as Occupant Protection, Teen Driving, and Enforcement. There are several areas where Texas falls short, and the most notable is in the Distracted Driving category. It is important to note Texas does not have a ban on texting unlike most others. The only states that do not have any protection laws aside from Texas are Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota. While there is a statewide proposed ban planned to go before Texas lawmakers, similar proposals have failed several times before.