In 2021, the Texas Department of Transportation recorded 541 fatal crashes and 577 deaths in Harris County. However, in 2022, traffic accidents in Harris County only accounted for 560 fatalities. Moreover, Houston experienced 66,988 crashes resulting in 327 road fatalities in 2021. The report shows Houston being the most dangerous city for motorists in the state.
Considering the high traffic accidents in Houston, motorists should learn how to avoid them. Following safety measures can significantly reduce the risk of an accident. It can also protect you from critical injuries, such as internal bleeding, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries.
But nothing can entirely eliminate the risk of a motor vehicle accident. You may contact a car accident lawyer if you have been in a traffic collision in Houston, Texas. An attorney can help you receive compensation for injuries and property damage.
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Ways To Prevent Fatal Crashes in Houston, Texas
Motorists can avoid deadly accidents by driving safely and following traffic regulations. Moreover, they should inspect their vehicles and report road hazards to the appropriate government agency.
Avoid drunk driving
Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code bans driving while intoxicated. Violators will be punished with minimum confinement of 72 hours. If the alleged drunk driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent, the state may punish them with one-year imprisonment.
Texas imposes heavy penalties on alcohol-impaired drivers because they pose a significant danger to public safety. Despite the government’s efforts to prevent them, the TxDOT reported 963 fatalities and over 2,000 injuries in Texas due to drunk drivers.
Alcohol impairs a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle at any level of intoxication.
A BAC of 0.02 percent can affect a motorist’s visual functions. A BAC of 0.05 percent can lead to reduced coordination and slow reaction time. A BAC of 0.08 percent may cause short-term memory loss and poor concentration. A BAC of 0.15 can substantially impair a driver’s vehicle control, posing extreme danger to other road users.
In Northeast Houston, an alleged intoxicated driver drove at high speed, resulting in a head-on collision with another vehicle. The drunk driver died, while the other motorist suffered severe injuries. A hit-and-run crash also happened in Houston on a Saturday night. The Houston Police Department (HPD) reported that the woman driver ran a stop sign and fatally struck another driver.
Eliminate distractions while driving
Section 545.4251 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits using of wireless communication devices while on the road. First-time violators may pay up to $99, and $200 for repeat violators. But if the distracted driver caused another person’s injury or death, they may suffer a fine of up to $4,000 and one-year imprisonment.
When operating a vehicle, drivers must focus on the road. However, distracted driving happens when the motorist fails to do so. It includes using a cell phone, eating, and drinking. Unfortunately, these activities can lead to fatal accidents.
For example, a distracted driving crash led to the death of three teens in South Texas. The woman driver checked her phone’s navigation system, causing her to shift her attention from the road. This loss of focus led her to steer the Hyundai Elantra into an oncoming truck.
You can avoid distracted driving by doing other things before or after operating a vehicle and not during the trip. Government agencies also suggest downloading apps that reduce driving distractions, such as LifeSaver and Drivemode. If you are a passenger, you can assist the driver with other tasks and encourage them to focus on driving.
Obey speed limits and traffic laws
Section 545.352 of the Texas Transportation Code outlines the state’s speed limits. Drivers in Texas must not exceed 30 mph in an urban district, 15 mph in an alley, and 70 mph on a highway. The law also mandates a speed limit of 50 to 60 mph for school buses.
Speeding increases the stopping distance and reduces the reaction time of drivers, leading to deadly collisions. For instance, a speeding driver in Southwest Houston died after their car overturned. According to the HPD, the vehicle drove at high speed, hitting another car.
Another speeding incident involved a vehicle allegedly traveling at more than 100 mph. The speeding driver lost control of the Porsche 911 Carrera and fatally hit a 33-year-old man. Surveillance video showed the car throwing the victim 30 feet into the air.
Moreover, Section 545.051 requires drivers to drive on the road’s right side road to avoid collisions. The law also bans driving on the left of the centerline of a four-lane roadway with four or more lanes. Driving against the flow of traffic can lead to fatalities, like what occurred in Harris County, where a wrong-way motorist killed the driver of a Chevrolet Malibu.
It helps to learn safe responses to potential driving hazards, such as poor weather conditions, damaged roadways, and negligent drivers. By observing the following defensive driving techniques, you can increase your safety on the road.
- Follow the three-second rule of driving. You must leave three seconds of space between your car and the vehicle in front. You can measure this by watching for the leading car to pass a road sign and ensuring three seconds or more before passing the same mark.
- Refrain from driving when you feel strong emotions. Motorists who are stressed, anxious, or upset may take more driving risks than relaxed drivers. They may also engage in reckless driving, which Section 545.401 of the Texas Transportation Code prohibits.
- Be careful when entering intersections. Slow down as you approach the green light and look on both sides before proceeding. Yield to other drivers to avoid accidents, especially when there are no traffic lights.
- Stay alert when driving. Other drivers change lanes or speed unexpectedly due to alcohol impairment or anger. In such cases, you must react quickly to avoid a collision.
Properly maintain your vehicle
Regularly inspecting your vehicle can help ensure your safety on the road. You can follow these maintenance tips to prevent traffic accidents:
- Check your vehicle’s tire pressure. Use an air pressure gauge to ensure your tires have the recommended pressure. If they are underinflated, add air in short bursts. If they are overinflated, release air from the tire. Make sure to recheck the tire pressure afterward.
- Regularly inspect your brake pads. Replace them if they seem thin, produce a screeching sound, or cause vibrations. Your dashboard may also warn you regarding a drop in brake fluid.
- Test the car lights. Your vehicle’s headlights and fog lights ensure you can see the road clearly. Moreover, they allow other motorists to see your vehicle or know your intentions.
- Contact a mechanic. Although you can self-check your vehicle’s condition, you should bring your car to a trained technician for a thorough inspection. They can quickly identify the parts needing replacements, so you can safely use your vehicle.
Report poor road conditions
You can help prevent a vehicle crash by calling 800-558-9368 to report roadways needing immediate repair. Texas also has a dedicated web page for reporting road issues. The website will ask you about the road problem, its location, and your contact information. Your report can alert the state of road hazards that must be addressed.
Examples of poor road conditions include potholes, root intrusion, lack of signage, narrow lanes, and debris. These hazards can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. For instance, motorists will be confused if intersections lack proper signage. As a result, they will not know who has the right of way.
In the Houston area, residents repeatedly complained about a damaged roadway, which has caused several vehicle crashes. The car owners paid thousands of dollars for their vehicle’s repair. Despite complaints, the city had not effectively addressed the safety issues, according to a local news channel.
Legal Actions for Car Crash Victims
Accident victims or their families may pursue claims involving personal injury, product liability, and wrongful death. They can receive fair compensation with the help of an experienced lawyer.
Personal injury claims
One of the grounds for personal injury claims is negligence. The elements of negligence in relation to car accidents include the following:
- The driver’s legal duty to the plaintiff;
- The violation of such duty;
- The plaintiff sustained an injury; and
- The causation between the breach and injury.
For instance, a driver in Houston has a legal duty not to use a cell phone while driving. This action is prohibited under Section 545.4251 of the Texas Transportation Code. However, a 30-year-old man, while operating a vehicle, used his cell phone to text a coworker. His distracted driving led him to hit a pedestrian who sustained brain injuries.
The pedestrian can demand compensation if the personal injury lawyer proves the connection between distracted driving and injury. The recovery amount may include payment for medical bills and lost income. Moreover, the attorney can present surveillance videos, medical reports, employment records, and witness statements to prove the causation.
Product liability claims
Auto manufacturers can face liability for producing defective products that result in accidents. Your car accident attorney can invoke the product liability doctrine and prove the following elements:
- The company sells a product that the plaintiff uses;
- The company is the commercial seller of the item;
- The plaintiff suffered injury;
- The company sold a defective product; and
- The causation between the faulty item and the injury.
Auto companies have issued product recalls. For example, Tesla recalled its electric semi-trucks due to parking brake issues and reported breakdowns. Similarly, General Motors recalled its pickup trucks and SUVs because of faulty brakes.
In another instance, Kia recalled almost 295,000 vehicles due to engine fire risks. According to the automaker, possible issues with their vehicles include fuel and oil leaking and engine damage. Another incident involved Hyundai’s electric cars. The company recalled 82,000 vehicles because of defective batteries, which posed a fire risk.
Wrongful death claims
Suppose a negligent driver causes the death of a loved one. The deceased’s family and representative can institute a wrongful death action against the at-fault party. The elements of wrongful death in relation to negligence include the following:
- The defendant’s legal duty to the accident victim;
- The defendant’s violation of such duty;
- The violation resulted in the victim’s death; and
- The causation between the breach and the death.
For example, motorists in Houston have a legal duty to obey the speed limit of 70 mph on highways. Suppose a 40-year-old woman operated her sedan at 100 mph. As a result, she rear-ended another car and killed its driver. In this example, the family members can seek compensation for funeral fees, loss of earning opportunities, and other losses.
A wrongful death lawyer can help negotiate the maximum payout with the deceased’s and at-fault party’s insurance company. In evaluating the possible compensation, the legal counsels of all parties involved consider the following:
- Age of decedent
- Occupation of decedent
- Share of fault
- Policy limits
Did you know?
In 2021, the TxDOT reported 2,265 crashes involving pedal cyclists. In the same year, 521 motorcyclists died, while 2,319 suffered serious injuries.
Find a Car Accident Lawyer in Houston
Drivers cannot entirely eliminate the risk of motor vehicle accidents, but they can take steps to prevent them. Suppose you get injured in a traffic collision. You may file a claim involving personal injury or product liability against the at-fault party. Moreover, in the event of a wrongful death, the surviving family can pursue a wrongful death action.
It’s important you understand your legal options and rights in a fatal car accident. The Personal Injury Center provides free legal information on motor vehicle accidents and can connect you with car accident lawyers. Book a free consultation today and tell us about your case.
Don’t wait to get legal help. Contact The Personal Injury Center to get matched with an experienced car accident lawyer.
FAQs on Fatal Car Accidents in Houston
Can you receive compensation even if you are self-employed?
Yes, you can recover lost income, whether you have an employer or are self-employed. You can even recover payment for hiring additional or substitute workers. However, you need to prove the injury prevented you from working.
Can you get reimbursement for a rental car?
If the accident damaged your vehicle, the at-fault party may be liable for providing you with a rental car. They may also pay the rental value or reimburse you if you rent a car from a company or individual.
How much will the lawyer get from the settlement money?
If you entered a contingency fee agreement, the attorney may receive 20 to 50 percent of the settlement amount. This fee arrangement helps you avoid paying up-front fees and reduce financial risk.