Texas has more miles of road than any other state, and our speed limits (in certain areas) are among the highest in the U.S. We love to drive in Texas, and we seemingly want to drive with as few limits as possible.
But this attitude has come at a steep cost. Our state leads the nation in traffic deaths. According to a recent news article, there has been at least one death on Texas roads every single day since Nov. 7, 2000. That’s not a record to be proud of, and it calls for decisive action.
The state legislature, in consultation with TxDOT, is considering a number of proposals that could reduce traffic crashes and deaths. Each measure has varying levels of support. They include:
- A bill that would make it easier to lower the default speed limit (from 30 mph to 25 mph) in urban neighborhoods without posted speed signs
- Expanding the state’s texting-while-driving ban to prohibit all use of a handheld cellphone (hands-free devices would still be allowed)
- Strengthening the state’s right-of-way laws for pedestrians by requiring drivers to “stop and yield” to pedestrians who are legally present in a crosswalk
- Changing the language in the Texas Transportation Code to replace the word “accident” with the word “crash.”
The last proposal mentioned above is an idea being adopted elsewhere in the country already. The goal is to change how we think about traffic safety by changing how we talk about it. Consider the fact that many car crashes are both predictable and preventable (such as those caused by distracted driving). As such, they should not be called “accidents,” because accidents are inevitable and don’t require us to assign blame.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the various proposals put forth by Texas legislators are a mixed bag. Some enjoy widespread support, others almost none. But considering how dangerous and deadly our state’s roads have become, it is time for us to consider any and all measures that could save lives and reduce the rate of crashes.