Texas is known for many things, including its cowboy culture, thriving cattle and oil industry, large cities with diverse landscapes, legendary rodeos, mouth-watering Tex-Mex cuisine, and good old-fashioned Southern hospitality. But not everything is sunshine and rainbows in the Lone Star State. There are a few downsides, one being a high incidence of traffic crashes. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the Lone Star State was home to over 239,000 motor vehicle traffic crashes that resulted in injury in 2021. While we are on the topic, the organization also noted that traffic fatalities increased by more than 15% between 2020 and 2021.
What Traffic Accidents Truly Cost Texas Drivers
Drivers lucky enough to escape a traffic collision with their lives seldom have the same luck sidestepping accident-related injuries. Some of the physical injuries many people suffer after having been involved in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence include
Soft Tissue Injuries
For those unaware, soft tissue injuries are the ones that damage the body’s connective tissue, namely muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Whiplash is the most common of these injuries, followed by mid-back and low-back muscle sprains and spinal cord injuries. As a matter of reference, whiplash is a neck injury caused by rapid back-and-forth head movement. They usually go hand-in-hand with rear-end collisions. According to an article published by business and employment-focused social media platform Linkedin, an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. suffer from this specific soft tissue injury annually. Of those 3 million, an estimated 50% struggle with chronic pain, and 10% struggle with a permanent disability that requires costly round-the-clock care.
Cuts and Scrapes
Although they hardly constitute life-threatening injuries, superficial cuts and scrapes are common in car accidents. Generally speaking, such injuries stem from being cut by sharp glass or struck with a hard object, such as smartphones, chargers, coffee mugs, and the like, when a vehicle is involved in a crash. Airbags going off in a car crash can also leave some people with cuts and scrapes. The good news is these injuries seldom require medical intervention. Often, the following at-home treatments are more than enough to speed healing:
- Cleaning fresh wounds with water
- Applying an antibiotic or petroleum jelly to keep fresh wounds moist and to prevent scarring
- Covering wounds with a bandage, rolled gauze, or gauze to promote healing
- Changing wound dressings periodically to minimize the risk of infection
Head injuries caused by a traffic accident can vary in severity. An example of a minor head injury would be when an individual suffers mild cuts or bruising to their head due to it hitting against a side window or another object in the vehicle during a crash. An example of a severe head injury would be an individual hitting their head on the steering wheel or a similarly hard part of their vehicle with so much force that it results in a closed-head injury. These injuries occur when an individual’s head rapidly moves forward or backward, causing their brain to shake inside the skull. Common closed-head injuries include concussions, contusions, diffuse axonal injuries, and intracranial hematomas.
Chest Injuries and Respiratory Problems
Chest injuries are common following traffic collisions, especially those forceful enough to push someone into their vehicle’s dashboard or steering wheel. When someone collides with these objects during a crash, it can lead to broken ribs. Those same broken rib bones can splinter and puncture the lungs. If that happens, the lungs will gradually deflate and eventually collapse, which opens the door to breathing problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, severe rib fracture and flail chest, the clinical term for two or more contiguous rib fractures with two or more breaks per rib, can trigger respiratory failure, pneumonia, and other problems.
Arm and Leg Injuries
The same forceful impact in a crash that can cause chest injuries can also cause minor and, sometimes, severe arm and leg injuries. These injuries typically occur when individuals are in T-bone or head-on collisions, with rotator cuff injuries and humerus fractures being the most commonly reported arm injuries and ligament damage being the most common for legs. Ligament damage in the legs is usually in the form of severed nerves, tendons, or muscles. Of course, bone fractures in the legs, namely the femur, tibia, and fibula, are also common. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), whether it be ligament damage or broken bones, leg injuries usually occur when the space underneath the dash where drivers and passengers typically rest their legs collapses during a T-bone or head-on collision. Most arm injuries, on the other hand, occur due to drivers and passengers holding on to the dashboard or steering wheel to brace themselves right before a crash.
Factors That Dictate the Nature and Severity of an Injury Following a Traffic Accident
Multiple things can dictate the nature and severity of injuries when someone is involved in a car crash. Some of the more notable ones include the following:
- Whether or not the injured person was wearing a seat belt
- If the vehicle the injured person was traveling in was involved in a rear, side, or head-on collision
- If the individual injured was facing straight ahead in their seat or at an angle at the time of the crash
- How fast the injured party and the other driver’s vehicle were traveling at the time of the crash
- Whether or not airbags deployed during the crash
Most Common Causes of Traffic Accidents in 2023
Before delving into some of the most common causes of traffic accidents on Texas roads, let’s take a closer look at traffic accident statistics in Texas first. According to the same data from the Texas Department of Transportation, someone dies in a traffic collision every two hours in Texas, and someone suffers an injury every two minutes. That said, common reasons for car crashes in the Lone Star State include
Not surprisingly, speeding is one of the primary contributors to traffic collisions on Texas roadways. Available data shows speeding played a role in over 139,000 reported car crashes in Texas in 2017. Of those 139,000 or so crashes, 500 of them resulted in fatalities. The long and short of it is drivers who speed generally have decreased reaction time, poor maneuverability, and are more likely to make a mistake that leads to a crash. Further, when drivers attempt to hit the brakes after traveling at a high rate of speed, stopping time is drastically reduced. And that further increases the risk of a crash. For these reasons, many cities, including some in Texas, are lowering speed limits on some roadways. Many found that when drivers reduce their speed by just 20%, they are less likely to be involved in a crash and less likely to sustain a severe injury if they are in one.
According to ScienceDirect, a trusted resource for scientific, technical, and medical research, driver inattention, particularly driver distraction, is a factor in a significant percentage of reported car crashes. For reference, driver distraction is anything from texting and talking on a smartphone to fidgeting with the GPS or radio in one’s vehicle while driving, all of which are factors that can heighten the probability of a crash. That all said, focusing on the task at hand, meaning driving, can lower one’s chances of making a mistake that can have devastating consequences.
Failing To Drive Within a Single Lane
Along with driving at the posted speed limit and driving attentively, staying in a single lane is another excellent way to avoid a collision. For those unfamiliar with the term, driving in a single lane means not allowing your vehicle to drift into another lane or, worse yet, off the road. According to the Insurance Information Institute, failing to stay in a single lane accounts for approximately 14% of all fatal crashes, most of which involve head-on collisions and sideswipes.
Following Too Closely
Tailgating can quickly put drivers on a fast track for rear-ending the car in front of them. And sadly, collisions of this kind are not uncommon on America’s roads and highways. That’s according to a study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It revealed that rear-end collisions caused by tailgating account for an estimated one-third of all accidents reported in the U.S. annually. While we are on the topic, it is worth noting that roughly one million rear-end crashes occurred on U.S. roads and highways in 2020. Of those, 10% resulted in fatalities. Common injuries associated with being involved in a tailgating-related crash include the following:
- Facial disfigurement
- Head, neck, and spine trauma
- Internal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence is a surefire way to find yourself in a car crash. Unfortunately, Texas is one of five states with the most reported drunk driving incidents; the remaining four include North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. By the numbers, the Lone Star State was home to around 25,261 drunk-driving crashes in 2021. Over 2,500 of those crashes ended with people suffering critical injuries and a little over 1,000 people losing their lives. That said, if you’re interested in keeping yourself and others on the road safe, it’s best to avoid drinking and driving.
Why It Pays To Hire an Attorney After Being Involved in a Car Crash
If you ever have the misfortune of being in a car crash, you will find out just how quickly medical bills can mount up. One NHTSA study revealed the cost of medical treatment following a traffic accident with injuries is approximately $15,000. To make matters worse, some people have to deal with lost wages because their injuries preclude them from immediately returning to work after being in a car crash. Fortunately, Texas Law allows individuals a full two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury claim. This legal process enables individuals to seek damages to cover medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and more if they were the victim of an accident caused by a negligent driver. Whether it be filing a compensation claim or moving forward with a personal injury lawsuit, attorneys can help individuals with the following:
- Communicating with insurance companies
- Determining an appropriate compensation amount
- Establishing liability
- Filing a court case
- Gathering and organizing evidence necessary to support a claim for compensation
- Negotiating a settlement
In summary, multiple things can contribute to a car crash on Texas roadways. And those crashes can have devastating emotional, physical, psychological, and financial consequences, many of which can reverberate for years after the proverbial and literal dust has settled. Thankfully, those who have had their lives upended in any or all of these ways because of an accident that was not their fault have the right to seek compensation to help make them whole again. To learn more about the process involved in filing a compensation claim, negotiating a settlement, or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in a Texas court of law, consider contacting the PM Law Firm today.