Report: Texas leads the nation in wrong way driving deaths

A view of downtown Grapevine, Texas, in March 2016. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

(The Center Square) – Texas leads the U.S. in reporting the greatest number of wrong way driving crash deaths, with fatalities up 29% during the period analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“Fatal wrong-way driving crashes on our nation’s highways are a persistent and devastating threat that is only getting worse,” the foundation states in a report. It analyzed traffic data nationally from 2010 to 2018.

There were 2,008 deaths from wrong way driving crashes on divided highways between 2015 and 2018, an increase of 34% from deaths annually from 2010 to 2014.

Texas has the highest number of total wrong-way crash fatalities of any state, the report found, totaling 309 from 2015 to 2018.

The odds of being a wrong-way driver increased with alcohol-impairment, older age, and driving without a passenger, researchers found.

“Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said. “And unfortunately, as the data shows, fatalities from these crashes are on the rise.”

AAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are urging state transportation agencies to adopt driver-based countermeasures, like considering how to advance the use of alcohol ignition interlocks, increasing sobriety checkpoints, offering driver refresher courses for older adults and installing more-visible signs and signals.

Overall, there were 3,896 motor vehicle traffic deaths in the Lone Star State in 2020, an increase of 7.5% from the previous year, the Texas Department of Public Safety reports.

Based on reportable crashes in 2020, one person in Texas was killed every 2 hours and 15 minutes in 2020. One person was injured every 2 minutes and 34 seconds; there was one reportable crash every 1 minute and 7 seconds.

An estimated economic loss of all motor vehicle crashes was over $43 million, according to the state agency.

— Bethany Blankley, The Center Square contributor

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