Texas has some of the deadliest and most dangerous highways in America. In a 2019 study by Consumer Affairs, out of the 50 U.S. states, Texas ranked at the 17th worst in road conditions. Out of the 77 stretches of highway that cross the state. Most are ranked among the busiest and fatal roads to drive. You can avoid an accident, fatality, or a violation by following some simple driving rules and safety tips. You wouldn’t want to need a tow truck to safety. However, if you ever need quick response roadside assistance, remember Flag towing and roadside assistance.
As per the Texas Department of Transportation, the fatality rate for the year 2019 was 1.26 deaths per one hundred million vehicle miles traveled. With over 3,610 deaths recorded, one person killed every 2 hours, 26 minutes, and one crash every 56 seconds on the Texas roads. Out of the total car accidents in 2015 in the U.S., 10 percent occurred in Texas, with 62 percent happening on the interstates and highways.
Some of the deadliest highways in the Lone Star State are Interstate 45 in Harris County, named the number 1 for fatal car crashes by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). As per the U.S. Department of Transportation, a 14-year study showed recorded 288 crashes and 320 deaths on I-45. The Interstate 35 east through Dallas, TX, with high congestion levels and the Texas State Highway Loop, known as the Charles W. Anderson Loop around San Antonio, is extremely dangerous for unsuspecting drivers. Alone in the year 2018, there were 20,401 traffic crashes along the I-35 in Texas, prompting TxDOT to start to drive a safe campaign for I-35.
In another article, we have provided a few tips to avoid needing a tow truck due to mechanical reasons.
Highway & Vehicle Safety
Change your driving habits to create a safe environment on the road and live to take another trip.
- Speeding Limitation
After all, highways are fast-paced roads, but speeding can cause fatal accidents in Texas. The TDOT reported that over 17,000 crashes in 2015 involved drivers who were violating the speed limit or traveling at unsafe speeds. Similarly, drivers who failed to control their speeds to avoid collisions were involved in over 30,000 crashes.
Many of the highways and interstates in Texas have a maximum speed limit of 75 mph. However, the limit speed is the maximum, and drivers should always be alert to change the speed as per the conditions. Because in foggy and raining weather or when ice is on the road, construction zone ahead, or when the traffic is heavy, you should adjust your speed accordingly. Exceeding the posted speed limit can result in fines, legal fees, court costs, and points added to the license.
Driving while intoxicated is the most common cause of accidents and fatalities. Every 20 minutes in Texas, someone is hurt or killed in a crash involving alcohol. Charges for intoxicated driving can range from misdemeanors to felony offenses. During 2019, the statewide fatal DUI crashes were 788 out of the total 3,288 crashes.
A person can be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a 0.8 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration). The charge can be up to $10,000 and 2 to 10 years in prison and the loss of a driver’s license for up to 2 years. If you have a child or a passenger younger than 15 years old in the car, you can be charged with child endangerment.
Drivers might be required to install ignition interlock devices. Breath test devices are connected to the vehicle’s ignition and prevent their car from being operated if the driver has a BAC below a preset limit, typically .02 g/dL.
- Work Zones
There are as many as 3,000 active work zones in Texas at any given time. You should expect slower traffic, flaggers, lane narrowing, construction vehicles, and workers when navigating through work zones. The cause of a work zone crash is mostly the driver’s failure to control speed and driver inattention. Drivers need to be extra cautious and heed the road signs. Because the fines for violations in the work zone is double the normal and can be as much as $2,000 when reaching a work zone, every driver should follow the tips below:
- Restrain your speed to the limit posted on the signs
- Look out for workers or heavy equipment as they can only be a few feet away.
- Pay close attention and put the phone away.
- Obey road flaggers
- Change lanes only when traffic conditions and pavement markings allow
Especially be vigilant in work zones in extreme weather conditions or at night. Reduced road visibility, combined with irregular traffic patterns, can create dangerous situations.
- Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can be anything that diverts your attention, like texting, talking on a cell phone, eating, shaving, reading, programming a navigation system, or watching a video. Typically, reading or sending a text message takes your eyes off the road for almost five seconds. That at 55 mph means driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Daunting as it may sound, it has been a real problem with the advent of smartphones. One in five crashes involves distracted driving. Texting and driving are illegal in Texas, with fines up to $200. At the same time, some cities have distracted more restrictive driving ordinances.
Drivers need to be extra vigilant, avoiding every manner of distracted driving. Be it smoking, texting, or using a mobile phone while driving to increase road safety. There are three types of distractions:
- Visual – moving your eyes away from the road
- Manual – holding hands off the steering wheel.
- Cognitive – being mentally distracted
- Engine Trouble
A safe trip starts with a safe and sound vehicle. To have safe travel, make sure your vehicle is maintained correctly. It is the primary responsibility of a car owner to keep the car in good operating condition. Engine oils should be changed after a set interval, and take care of the cooling system, including the radiator, water pump, thermostat, and coolant. Check for any leaks from your car, like oil and antifreeze leaking from the engine.
Other than the engine, the driver should also regularly check tires, exterior lights, and fluids like coolant, transmission fluid, and brake fluid. This might seem obvious, but don’t ever neglect the car warning lights because you might be overlooking a serious problem.
Driving can be tiring, combined with lack of sleep, stress, or exhaustion, leading to a dangerous doze off on the road. Drowsy driving can be a severe problem. Exhausted and fighting sleep can put not only you but your family and other cars on the road in danger. If you plan for a long drive, take complete rest and prepare for the trip.
If you are fatigued, it’s recommended to pull over or change the driver by promptly taking turns. Otherwise, your reaction time to any happening or changes on the road could be slower than they should be, leaving you and others in a perilous situation.
What to do if you crash
Stuck on the roadside? What should you first? An important phrase – “If you can steer it, clear it.” Take off your vehicle to the roadside at a safe distance to cut down rubbernecking and possibly another wreck. Call the emergency services as soon as you can take out your mobile. And then comes the roadside assistance and towing service company. You should always have a reliable and efficient towing company’s phone number in your phonebook. If you are stranded in the north Dallas areas and are looking for a tow truck company, Flag Towing provides prompt towing and roadside assistance in Plano, Frisco, McKinney, Allen, The Colony, TX, and other adjacent areas.
Keep your car in good shape. Failing to drive safely can result in disastrous accidents, expensive fines, and even death. So, improve your driving skills because you share the road with everyone, and to make roads a safer place, we need to work together.