In a densely populated area formed roughly by Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Austin lies the Texas Triangle. Outlined by I-35, I-45 and I-10, this megaregion forms what is sometimes referred to as the Texaplex. Along this outline of highways and densely populated regions, a much higher concentration of traffic crashes is seen than in any other area of Texas. The Texas Triangle currently houses 6% of the United States population and has a projected growth of 93.3% by 2050. So, what are the primary causes of Texas Triangle crashes and what can you do to avoid a crash?
Use our map to compare fatal crashes across the years by interstate and vehicle type. Select a map marker along the Texas Triangle to view more information about that crash. The heatmap of the entire state shows where all crashes have occurred compared to the Texas Triangle.
Between 2005 and 2014, the death toll on Texas highways has been constant. The numbers dance around an average of 3,363 a year and never fall below 3,000. The most alarming increase occurred between 2011 and 2012 when the number of traffic deaths increased by 11% and by a total of 350 additional fatalities. Many accidents are caused by preventable driver errors. Our analysis indicates that drivers in Texas can help reduce the risk of crashes by avoiding certain unsafe behaviors that are leading contributors to crashes year after year. In nearly every year we analyzed, driving under the influence stood out as the leading cause of crashes. The number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased by more than 20 percent during the time period.
Speed is another leading cause of fatal crashes, our analysis shows. Driving faster than the posted speed limit is not the only issue. Many crashes are caused by failure to control speed, such as driving too fast for traffic conditions and or failing to maintain a speed to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. In several years, speed-related accidents surpassed drunk driving as the number one cause of fatal accidents in Texas. Another leading cause of fatal crashes is failure to drive in a single lane. A driver may drift out of his or her lane because the driver is drowsy, distracted or inattentive. A driver also may cause an accident by trying to change lanes and failing to see another motorist beside them in a blind spot.
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Between 2005 and 2014, the greatest concentration of traffic crashes in Texas occurred in the area that includes Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. The Texas triangle has a higher density of people, cars and trucks than the state overall. Nearly three quarters of the state’s population lives in the Texas Triangle. There are significantly more cars, trucks and motorcycles on the roads today than in 2005 and Texans are driving more miles each year. Even so, the overall number of traffic fatalities has remained relatively flat comparing the years 2005 and 2014. However, our analysis did identify some troubling trends.
Accidents involving motorcyclists represent a growing portion of traffic fatalities in Texas. The popularity of motorcycles in the Lone Star State brought a 38 percent increase in motorcycle registrations from 2005 to 2014 and a corresponding 32 percent increase in motorcyclist deaths. More than 450 motorcycle riders died in the most recent year analyzed. It is critically important for motorcyclists to wear bright clothing and make themselves as visible as possible to other motorists.
Drunk driving accident also represent a growing proportion of traffic fatalities in Texas. The number of alcohol related traffic deaths in Texas increased by 23 percent from 2005 to 2014. More than one out of four fatal traffic accidents involved a drunk driver by 2014. Drunk driving accidents are preventable. Avoid driving after drinking alcohol and help your loved ones get home safely if they have consumed alcohol. Never let a friend drive drunk. Also, if possible, try not to drive late at night when many drunk drivers are on the road. If you do have to drive late at night keep a greater distance than normal between yourself and other vehicles.
Distraction is now understood to be a serious traffic safety issue with many motorists talking or texting on cell phones while driving. Nearly 500 people died in traffic accidents in 2014 involving distracted driving.
The north-south highway of I-35 forms the left side of the Texas Triangle, connecting Dallas/Fort Worth to San Antonio and passing through Austin along the way. The highway is currently undergoing renovations and expansions in certain areas from 4 lanes to 6, which can certainly play a role in the high number of crashes seen here. As one of Texas’s major highways, traffic conditions can often be slow moving – sometimes even at a complete standstill.
In 2014, the majority of the crashes along I-35 within the Triangle involved pickup trucks, heavy trucks and motorcycles; while in 2005 there were far more passenger cars involved along the same stretch of highway.
Another north-south highway, I-45 makes up the right side of the Triangle, connecting Dallas/Fort Worth with Houston. Interstate 45 only runs through the state of Texas, and the highway varies in width from 2 lanes up to 5.
In 2005, the majority of the crashes that occurred along this highway within the Texas Triangle involved SUVs/vans. In 2014, many more passenger cars were involved in crashes on I-45.
As the major east-west highway that runs through the United States, more than a third of Interstate 10 runs through Texas. In Houston, I-10 is known as the Katy Freeway – a section that in 2008 was widened to a total of 26 lanes in an effort to reduce traffic.
In 2005, passenger cars and SUVs/vans made up the majority of the crashes that occurred along the Texas Triangle stretch of I-10. In 2010 the concentration of traffic crashes along this stretch of highway dispersed quite a bit. By 2014, however, the number of crashes, especially those involving SUVs/vans, had crawled back up.
It is the responsibility of every driver to obey traffic laws, drive safely and avoid endangering others on the road. Many types of common accidents are entirely preventable if drivers maintain safe speeds for the traffic conditions, avoid distractions, and remain focused on driving and the vehicles around them. Keep in mind also that when an accident is caused by another driver’s carelessness or negligence, the at-fault driver may be held accountable for the harm caused.