Empty Highways Do Not Mean Safer Highways for Texas Drivers

Apr 24, 2020

Ever since Governor Abbott announced the statewide stay-at-home order requiring the closure of schools and many businesses and government offices, the traffic on Texas highways has drastically reduced. Not only that, but the number of traffic accidents has also gone down. In fact, there have been countless news articles detailing the reduction in car accidents since states began implementing stay-at-home orders. For example, according to one local news report, there were 450 car accidents in Austin in March 2019; however, there were 69 fewer car accidents in March 2020.

Initially, the fact that the number of traffic accidents has gone down would seem to be a good thing. And in a way it is fewer accidents mean fewer injuries and fewer fatalities. However, this data is not necessarily as good as it seems. Because much of the state has been required to stay at home, the total number of motorists on the road has gone way down. Thus, while the absolute number of Texas car accidents has decrease slightly during the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of car accidents has actually increased. Also, there is some reason to believe that police are less likely to respond to a car accident that did not result in any injuries, somewhat skewing the statistics.

The reality appears to be that Texas highways are currently more dangerous today than ever before. There are a few possible reasons for this. First, because there are fewer cars on the road some motorists see this as an opportunity to see how fast they can drive. According to a recent survey, the number of motorists who are speeding has surged as drivers find themselves on empty highways. Another reason for an increase in accidents is the widely held belief that police officers are not conducting routine patrols during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, motorists may feel as though they are less likely to get pulled over.

Motorists have a legal obligation to follow all traffic laws and can be held accountable when their failure to do so results in an accident. Those who have been injured in a Texas car accident should consult with a dedicated injury lawyer.