Four Reasons Why Texas Leads U.S. In Fatal Auto AccidentsOctober 17, 2014
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Texas led the nation in fatal auto accidents in 2012. Numerous deaths have been reported on highways across the state, from Beaumont to El Paso and from Brownsville to Lubbock. The number of fatal auto accidents in Texas has been on the rise in recent years, with numbers well above the national average. While drivers who engage in too much drinking, too many drugs, and too little sleep are often to blame for such accidents, several other factors also contribute to the steep increase in fatal auto accidents across the state.
Reason #4: Crumbling Roads
The continued deterioration of our roads and infrastructure has become a major factor in the increase in the number of fatal auto accidents, both in Texas and across the country. Roads that were originally intended for farmers to take their crops to market now must handle heavy traffic from passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, and 18-wheelers. The unpredictable weather and poor road maintenance also contribute to the declining state of Texas roads, which can lead to fatal auto accidents
Reason #3: Low Road Taxes
Texas ranks among the bottom ten states in collecting transportation taxes and fees. In other states, these fees go toward road repairs, expansions and construction. Tax levies on gasoline, which had been one of the major sources of highway funding, have been frozen for nearly twenty years. When adjusted for inflation, the purchasing power of gasoline levies has fallen from 18 cents per gallon to only 7 cents per gallon. Higher gas prices have led to drivers opting for vehicles that get better gas mileage, which means that drivers are buying less gasoline and the state collects less revenue.
Reason #2: Oil Boom
The increase in activity in the state’s “oil patch” has also led to an increase in the number of fatal auto accidents. A new drilling technology, called hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has spurred the oil industry to its highest production levels in decades. Large trucks that haul drilling equipment, fracking fluid and well waste travel across major highways and rural roads. The increase in demand for drivers has also contributed to more fatal auto accidents. Many of these drivers are inexperienced in handling the large vehicles and often drive long hours with no sleep.
Reason #1: Population Explosion
The sheer increase in the number of vehicles on Texas roads has also led to an increase in the number of fatal auto accidents. The aforementioned oil boom, along with warmer temperatures, lower taxes and a surging economy, has encouraged residents of other states to relocate to Texas. Odessa, the West Texas town made famous by the high school football movie “Friday Night Lights”, has seen its population triple in the past decade. The area has also seen a 150 percent increase in the number of fatal auto accidents since 2009.
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