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Higher speed limits linked to more traffic fatalities

As a large state, Texas presents motorists with long stretches of road. That's why lawmakers have chosen to raise speed limits over the years. One road even allows people to travel at 85 mph. Forty-one states have increased speed limits since the national 55 mph rule ended in 1995. Researchers looking at the possible link between higher speed limits and increased traffic fatalities determined that 36,760 extra deaths occurred nationwide due to higher speed limits.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety analyzed data about traffic deaths from 1993 to 2017. Researchers adjusted their calculations to control for factors such as wearing seat belts, driver age and unemployment rates. They discovered that traffic deaths went up by 8.5% for every extra 5 mph allowed by the speed limit. The IIHS study concluded that a 55 mph speed limit would have prevented approximately 1,900 fatalities in 2017.

Rights of bicyclists in Texas 

If you're a cyclist in Texas, you have probably had some less-than-desirable encounters with drivers. Maybe someone did not see you and turned in front of you. Maybe they refused to move over while passing and nearly ran you off of the road. In general, you got the sense that they did not respect your basic rights.

But what rights do you have? Let's take a look to make sure you know where you stand.

Unpredictable fall weather adds to driving dangers

The fall weather in Texas is not as treacherous as it is in some other parts of the country, but drivers in the Lone Star State may still be wise to take extra precautions when days start to get shorter. Falling leaves and rain showers can make road surfaces extremely slippery, and traffic is heavier during morning and afternoon commutes when schools and colleges are open.

Accident rates are higher during the twilight hours as drivers tend to react slowly to diminishing visibility and a setting sun can be dazzling. This taking place during the evening commute is one of the reasons fall driving is so hazardous. The sudden and severe thunderstorms that are common in many parts of Texas in the fall add to the dangers. Morning drives can also be perilous in the fall due to patches of lingering fog.

Road rage incidents are becoming worryingly common

There were 80 fatal car accidents nationwide linked to aggressive driving in 2006 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. By 2015, that number had grown to 467. Road rage incidents in Texas and around the country are often blamed on angry young men, but a survey conducted by the American Automobile Association in 2016 suggests that the problem is far more widespread. A worrying 80% of the motorists polled by the organization's Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted that they had engaged in aggressive and dangerous behavior triggered by anger within the preceding 12 months.

More than half of the drivers polled by the AAA said that they deliberately tailgated slow-moving vehicles and almost half admitted to yelling obscenities at other road users. An alarming number of the respondents also admitted to even more dangerous behavior such as cutting another driver off intentionally or speeding up or slowing down to prevent other vehicles from changing lanes or merging safely.

Running red lights can put others in danger

Running a red light is one of the most dangerous actions a Texas driver can take. A June 2019 survey from AAA found that 85% of respondents said that they understood the dangers of doing so. However, about one-third of respondents said that they had gone through a red light within the past 30 days. According to AAA, there were 939 people killed in accidents involving drivers who ran red lights in 2017, which was a 28% increase from 2012.

There are several reasons why drivers may feel compelled to pass through an intersection when a traffic light is red. However, the most common explanation is that they don't think that they will be caught or punished. Data indicates that only 40% of motorists believe that an officer would pull them over after committing such an act. While red light accidents can be deadly, they are not the only danger that drivers and pedestrians could face.

Tips for safely avoiding distracted drivers on the road

Avoiding distracted driving requires adjustments in more than one area of your life. The first and most important step you can take is to commit yourself to avoiding distraction at the wheel. From eating and drinking while driving to emotional conversations or the ping of your phone, there are many kinds of distraction that could endanger you and everyone you encounter on the road.

Deciding to avoiding distraction while driving can help you stay safer. However, simply avoiding distractions yourself won't completely mitigate your risk.

Vehicle safety technologies less capable than drivers think

Advanced technology safety features are increasingly standard equipment in new vehicles in Texas, but they may not be as safe or capable as people believe them to be. Automatic emergency braking, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, may reduce rear end crash rates by as much as 50% and could lower the total number of crashes reported to police by 20%. The sensors technologies like autonomous driving rely on, though, are not very good at some important things.

While Tesla's autopilot is good at following another car in the same lane and adjusting its own speed to stay a safe distance back, the vehicles have trouble identifying stopped vehicles ahead of them. They also struggle to assess risks ahead when the car they're following changes lanes, referred to as a cut-out scenario. Part of the problem that makes these technologies somewhat dangerous is that drivers treat them as fully autonomous when they are designed only to be partially autonomous.

The ever-present threat of drunk driving

Over the past three decades, the number of drunk driving fatalities has gone down by a third. Still, more than 10,000 people in the U.S. died in drunk driving crashes every year between 2006 and 2016. This trend is showing no signs of ending in Texas. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 30 people die each day in drunk driving accidents.

In every state, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration is .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood. Drivers who are caught with a BAC of .08 or above can face a misdemeanor or felony charge. This can mean losing a license, facing a fine or going to jail. Some states require that DUI offenders install an ignition interlock device in their car. This measures one's BAC and only allows a sober driver to start the car.

How can you protect yourself against dog attacks?

Dog bites are surprisingly common considering that dogs are called man's best friend. The truth is that dogs, like all other animals, have their own personalities and quirks that you have to be prepared for. Some are hyper, some are aggressive and others just want to snuggle. When they're sick, tired or hurt, all dogs have the potential to bite.

The good news is that there are some ways to prevent dog bites and attacks. Here are three ideas that could help you avoid a trip to the hospital.

Accidents affect Subaru Crosstreks more than any other car

According to a survey from Insurify, there are more at-fault crashes involving Subaru Crosstreks than any other vehicle on the road. The auto insurance comparison site examined 1.6 million insurance quotes in its database and came up with a list of nine other vehicles that are the most accident-prone. Residents of Texas should be aware that in order for these quotes to be considered, they had to reveal the car's make and model and whether the vehicle was in a prior accident.

The finding that the Subaru Crosstrek was No. 1 on the list may seem odd when considering how the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety awarded the 2019 Crosstrek with the highest marks in terms of crash avoidance and crashworthiness. Despite the disproportionate number of crashes, for which there seems to be no explanation, most of the accidents do not cause the occupants in the Crosstrek to sustain serious injuries.

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  • superlawyers

    Robert Alden: 2005, 2006, 2008-2019
    Kevin Henrichson: 2017-2019
    Rising Star: 2005-08, 2013-14
    Derek Davis: Rising Star 2004

    Super Lawyers are chosen by Thomson Reuters and published in Texas Monthly Magazine

  • Don Davis:
    Personal Injury Litigation 1993-2014
    Legal Malpractice Law 2014

    Robert Alden:
    Commercial Litigation 2006-2020
    Bet-the-Company Litigation 2010-2020
    Personal Injury Litigation 2011-2020
    Lawyer of the Year – Personal Injury 2012
    Lawyer of the Year – Bet-the-Company Litigation 2019

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    Don Davis | Robert Alden

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  • Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP:
    Tier 1 Personal Injury Litigation 2010-2019
    Tier 1 Commercial Litigation 2011-2019

  • Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP:
    Tier 1 Personal Injury Litigation 2010-2019
    Tier 1 Commercial Litigation 2011-2019

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