According to recent statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation, the most common cause of accidents in Texas is due to erratic turning movements, especially when it comes to making a left turn. In fact, making a left turn recklessly accounts for 79 percent of accidents in Texas this year. In second is failure to control speed, which has been a problem for many years. However, the most nagging problem throughout Texas is that too many people continue to choose to get behind the wheel and drive when they have had too much alcohol.
Nationwide, drunk driving kills about 30 people every single day, and Texas has been at or near number one in drunk driving deaths for several years now. In 2017, nearly 1,200 people died in drunk driving crashes, which means, even though there have been Herculean efforts on the parts of educators, law enforcement and a wide variety of non-profits to discourage the practice, driving under the influence stands as one of the most common causes of human loss and family suffering.
Some Cities are Worse Than Others
Some Texas cities are especially prone to the devastating consequences of drunk driving. Obviously, given the size, cities like San Antonio, Houston and Dallas probably experience the most total drunk driving crashes and deaths, but when you look at the rate of drunk driving crashes and deaths, the results show something else entirely. Recently, a study tallied the number of drunk driving fatalities per 100,000 people and compiled a list of the most dangerous cities in Texas based on the odds of being killed by a drunk driver.
Here are the Top 10 cities in Texas when it comes to drunk driving fatality rates (DWI fatality rate):
- Odessa (6.26)
- Midland (6.19)
- Dallas (5.88)
- San Marcos (5.21)
- San Antonio (5.15)
- Baytown (5.12)
- Longview (5.09)
- Waco (4.63)
- Houston (4.36)
- Lubbock (4.10)
Odessa tops the list of the most dangerous Texas cities for drunk driving because they experience more than 200 drunk driving crashes per year, even though they have a relatively small population of just over 115,000. In all, more than 3% of those crashes result in fatalities.
The fact that San Antonio is still number 5 on this list should give us all pause. Ours is the second-largest city in Texas and he seventh-largest in the country. We deal with more than 2,300 drunk driving crashes every year, resulting in 75 fatalities and at least 110 incapacitating injuries.
Enforcement is Still the Key
The state of Texas is usually among the five worst states for drunk driving fatalities, despite the fact that the state has been diligent at strengthening its DWI laws and expanding enforcement for many years. Enforcement of strict drunk driving laws seems to be a key to cutting back on the number of accidents and deaths.
That is the primary reason why the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) refuses to give up and continues to crack down on drunk drivers every weekday and weekend, not just Holiday Weekends and special occasions. They continue to work closely with local police agencies, including the San Antonio Police Department and the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department, to increase patrols virtually every weekend, but especially those weekends including holidays or special celebrations.
The fact of the matter is, however, cutting down on DWI crashes isn’t likely to happen unless and until drivers voluntarily comply with Texas DWI laws on their own because it’s the right thing to do. It is imperative that more Texans simply choose to make the responsible decision to not get behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink, which means they are feeling either buzzed or drunk.
“Plan While You Can”
With the Holidays approaching fast, TxDOT has plans to again engage in its “Plan While You Can” campaign, which will once again encourage drivers to create and execute a plan to drive sober throughout the holiday season, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. They will again encourage drivers to visit SoberRides.org and use some of the various alternatives to drinking and driving. Among the best alternatives include the following:
- Designating a driver to remain sober.
- Using mass transit.
- Arranging for a sober friend or family member to take you home.
- Contact a ride sharing service or a cab to take you home.
- Spending the night at the location of the party.
- Find a hotel room nearby and sleep it off.
At some point, Texans have to stop relying on the law, and just make better decisions. All DWIs are avoidable and we can all do our part to make sure everyone arrives home safely every time we go out.