New data is out that highlights the ways traffic safety has improved, and ways it has grown worse, in the counties surrounding Houston. The annual State of Safety Report, issued by the Houston-Galveston Area Council, breaks down the crash data available into regional sets by county and twelve accident types. Total accidents, serious injuries, and fatalities are all tracked across the five-year period from 2012 through 2016.
Most Devastating Accidents
Many areas of concern showed a decrease in accidents from 2015 to 2016. These included, but were not limited to, significant reductions in accidents from distracted driving (15 percent), impaired driving (DUI) (7 percent), and accidents involving commercial vehicles (5 percent). However, the increases in other areas were more than enough to offset these improvements, bringing the total number of accidents up from 166,606 in 2015 to 170,099 in 2016. The largest leaps were found in accidents involving bicycles (8 percent) and motorcycles (9 percent). Crashes involving pedestrians increased by 3 percent while railroad-related crashes and accidents involving elderly drivers each increased by 5 percent.
Roughly 25 percent of crashes involving motorcycles resulted in either a death or serious injury. Shortly behind this number were accidents involving pedestrians (19 percent resulted in fatalities or serious injury), impaired driving (DUI) (18 percent), and accidents involving bicycles (14 percent). Impaired driving or DUI-related crashes were the only category which had more fatalities than serious injuries, though accidents involving pedestrians came close at 192 serious injuries to 189 deaths. Impaired driving (DUI) also held the highest raw number of fatalities at 318. This placed it well ahead of the next category, accidents involving pedestrians.
Harris County had the bulk of accidents in our area in 2016, with 131,156 of the 170,099 crashes in the region. The county has seen an increase in total accidents every year since 2012. This wasn’t consistent across accident types, however, as Harris County saw a decrease in accidents involving speeding, distracted drivers, unrestrained persons, young drivers, commercial vehicles, and work zones. Despite the decrease in quantity of crashes, crashes involving distracted drivers and work zones still saw increases in fatalities. Accidents involving unrestrained persons similarly saw an increase in serious injuries but a decrease in total accidents.
We can do better. The H–GAC Regional Safety Council has marked out five of these accident types as focused areas and saw improvement in three of them. Those of us on the road, however, are responsible for avoiding our participation in all of them. It is individual drivers who allow themselves to be distracted or to get behind the wheel when impaired, and it is individual drivers who must be on the lookout for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians. When drivers fail to take responsibility for their actions and cause injuries or death, their victims deserve justice. If you have been the victim of an car accident, contact us today so we can help you.