Since 2000, over 67,000 people have died on Texas roads. There has not been any slowing down in this trend of fatalities as the daily average is approximately 10 deaths per day. Studies and statistics on this trend show that at least 90% of all of these fatalities were preventable and that fatalities occur both in metro and rural areas across Texas at high rates.
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.
There is an epidemic on American roads because more people are being killed as a result of drivers running red lights. In 2017 alone, at least 939 people were killed because of a driver who blew through a red light, according to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study. That figure has been increasing since 2012. What this means is that at least two people are killed every day at the hands of drivers running red lights.
According to a recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA), 939 people lost their lives in 2017 from drivers speeding through red lights. That number has continuously increased since 2009. The study also revealed that many Americans admittedly disregard red lights and nearly one in three confessed to running a red light within the thirty day period preceding their interview. The fatalities included drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.
After last year's Houston Chronicle investigation, "Out of Control," local law enforcements have responded with the establishment of a regional task force to better patrol the roads. The article identified that "more than 600 motorists, passengers and pedestrians die every year in traffic collisions often caused by drivers who are speeding, driving while intoxicated or distracted and often on poorly designed roads", ranking Houston roads among the nation's deadliest. The article also criticized local law enforcements for their lack of a comprehensive strategy to lower the number of traffic accidents, and even lowering the number of enforcements in certain regions where fatal accidents rose. However, Harris County Sherriff Ed Gonzales is hopeful that the creation of the new task group which aims to crack down on traffic violations and unsafe drivers will help keep the roads safer for Houstonians. Sherriff Ed Gonzales stated that "we want to make sure we're visible and not just performing spot enforcement, and make it more sustainable."
Recently, a local task force was formed in response to a 2017 article in the Houston Chronicle which found that Houston is home to the nation's most dangerous roads. According to the article, more than 600 motorists, passengers, and pedestrians are killed every year in traffic collisions. The majority of these fatal accidents involved driver inattention, driving while intoxicated, and speeding. The Chronicle's investigation found that a lack of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue may be partly to blame. In response, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez called for the formation of a regional task force to better patrol roads. The task force was designed to crack down on traffic violations and unsafe driving practices, with the goal of promoting safe driving and reducing the number of serious motor vehicle accidents that occur on Houston area roads each year.
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.