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Texas Department of Transportation Blames Distracted Driving For Fatal Crashes

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According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the East Texas rural roads are deadlier than traveling on other major thoroughfares and interstates. This news is released as new crosses are being erected at the scene of yet another fatality near Longview.

Even though the number of fatal crashes has gone down in recent years, over 50% of the fatalities in the surrounding five counties around Longview since 2007 have been one vehicle accidents. This has led the Department of Transportation to conclude that distracted driving is the culprit in these collisions.

Further evidence in support of this conclusion is the fact that only one death occurred in more than 90% of the fatal accidents. In the five county area including Gregg, Rusk, Harrison, Panola and Upshur, there has not been any single accident since 2007 that resulted in more than three fatalities.

Jean Dark, with the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), stated that the reason is simply because most accidents occur on farm-to-market (FM) roads and involve only one car or pickup striking a tree, after leaving the road. This contrasts with multi-vehicle crashes on interstates. She explains that the difference is the tremendous impact that occurs when a vehicle strikes a stationary object such as a tree. It just “doesn’t give like another car would.”

The Department’s data indicated that 54% of all the accidents in the five county Longview area involved a single vehicle leaving the road, striking an object or flipping over. Only 38% of the wrecks involved two vehicles.

Dark said drivers just have to “pay attention to driving,” because if someone isn’t, it “can change your life.” For example, on two-lane FM roads, the oncoming traffic is separated from you by nothing more than a center stripe. You trust the other driver is paying attention and will stay on their side of the road. Unfortunately, sometimes they are distracted and they cross over into your lane.

Accidents resulting in fatalities have been around long before all of the gadgets we now have to distract us, such as cellphones, smartphones, iPads, iPods, headphones and GPS, just to name a few. Nationwide statistics show that distracted driving is one of the major causes of traffic fatalities. The TDPS data indicates that there were over 100,000 vehicles involved in accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2009 and new data is expected to confirm that those figures are continuing to rise.

Many of the crashes are the result of drivers trying to text message while driving. In 2009, the Texas Legislature passed a law which prohibits the use of any type of wireless device in a school zone. Another attempt to get a law passed to ban texting while driving is going to be on the table again during the 2013 legislative session. In 2011, Governor Perry vetoed a texting ban proposal.

Studies have shown that the use of a cellphone and texting while driving are equally, if not more dangerous, than driving while intoxicated.


If you or someone in your family has been injured or lost a loved one because of a distracted driver, you need to talk to an attorney experienced in serious personal injury or wrongful death cases caused by distracted drivers.

Carabin & Shaw is a San Antonio based law firm, with offices located throughout the state for your convenience. Let our experienced team be on your side to maximize your recovery.

Contact us online or call direct at (210) 222-2288 for your free consultation. For contact 24 hours a day, call our toll free number (800) 862-1260.

We will never charge you a fee unless we get you a recovery.

Other Resources:

Data: East Texas fatal wrecks since 2007 mostly one-vehicle
, Longview News Journal, Article by Richard Yeakley, January 6, 2013
Related Blog Posts:

Last Day Without A Fatality On Texas Roads Was 12 Years Ago , Texas Injury Lawyers Blog, November 9, 2012
Thanksgiving Day Pileup: Deadly Evidence of Accidents At Interstate Speeds , Texas Injury Lawyer Blog, December 3, 2012