Houston car accident attorney Brad T.Wyly says tougher police enforcement to curb aggressive drivers, more checkpoints to spot drunk drivers and limits on cell phones while
driving would make Texansfeel safer on the highways.
“It’s a shame that many Texansfeel more at risk from automobile accidents today than five years ago,” says Wyly,founder of the Houston personal injury law firm, Wyly Law Firm P.C.,which represents victims of traffic accidents and their families throughout Houston and its surrounding communities, including Baytown, Pasadena, Galveston and Beaumont and Harris County.
“Cars are safer, but cell phones and texting are more common, and there definitely are more distracted drivers out there and more distracted driving accidents,” Wyly says. “We’ve all seen aggressive drivers weaving through traffic at high speed or tailgating.”
A recent survey by the Center for Transportation Safety at the Texas Transportation Institute found that a third of Texas drivers say they feel less safe on the highways today than five years ago.
Chief among the motorists’ concerns: Other drivers driving aggressively and drivers using mobile wireless devices, or smart phones, causing distracted driving accidents. The survey interviewed 1,167 drivers at Texas Department of Safety Drivers’ License Offices across the state during September and October.
Wyly says the irony is that the trend in highway fatalities in Texas has been downward in recent years, yet drivers feel more vulnerable and less safe.
The number of traffic fatalities in Texas decreased by 11 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Over the past five years, the number of Texas motor vehicle accident deaths decreased from 3,700 in 2004 to 3,089 in 2009—a 16 percent decline.
Wyly says recently enacted laws that prohibit teen drivers under age 18 from talking on cell phones and texting while behind the wheel, along with laws that prohibit school bus drivers from talking on cell phones while driving, are prudent measures to protect motorists. Texas has the highest rate of accidents involving teenage drivers in the U.S.
“People are increasingly aware of the dangers of distracted drivers, particularly less experienced drivers,” Wyly says
In 2009, alcohol-related traffic deaths accounted for a nearly third of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes in Texas. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 956 people died in motor vehicle accidents in which a driver was under the influence of alcohol.
“Automobile accidents and deaths caused by drunk drivers and drugged drivers are preventable accidents,” Wyly says. “Impaired drivers are a menace to law-abiding drivers and a reason for concern. It makes sense to increase police sobriety checkpoints around weekends and around holidays— when people are drinking and partying.”
“We’ve seen that tougher laws on drunk driving and impaired driving are effective at curbing this danger,” he says.