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AMID THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, CRASHES ARE DOWN BUT FATAL CAR WRECKS ARE UP IN THE DFW.

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    As the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from and stay home, across North Texas, traffic volume dropped dramatically.

    Fewer cars on the road this year led to fewer accidents overall, however careful analysis of state crash data finds a deadly trend.

    While the number of crashes are down, the number of people who died on the roads in North Texas has tragically gone up.

    From March to December in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties, 480 people were killed on roads according to state crash records.

    That’s 72 more deaths than during the same timespan last year.

    “It’s a very interesting phenomenon,” said a representative from Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “We were surprised to see that. What you would like to see is a proportional decrease in serious crashes in conjunction with the decrease in total crashes.”

    As traffic engineers studied crash records from around the state, they discovered one of the main reasons for the increase in fatal wrecks was speed.

    With less congestion on the roadways this year, drivers clearly felt they had the opportunity to travel faster and they did. So when crashes happened, they were more likely to be fatalities. 

    This unintended consequence to less roadway congestion could change the way engineers approach reducing traffic in the future.

    “We have to find a way to reduce the risk of faster travel,” he said.

    In May 2020, 53-year-old Alvaro Torres was driving home from a construction job when his dump truck was struck by a speeding SUV on I-75 in Plano.

    Police say the 32-year-old driver of the SUV was “speeding over the limit” when he ran a stop sign, crossed a grassy median out of control, went airborne, and then flipped over a concrete barrier striking Torres’ truck.

    Both drivers were killed in the dramatic collision.

    If you know the family of someone killed in a fatal car wreck, contact a wrongful death Dallas lawyer such as the AM Law Group.

    According to the crash report, cocaine and fentanyl were found in the driver’s system.

    “People don’t think about car crashes until it happens to a person they know,” said Torres’ son, Alvaro Jr. “There are speed limits for a reason. People need to follow them.”

    Speed is not the only risky driving behavior that’s increased during the pandemic however.

    According to a federal report that looked at data from emergency rooms, since the start of the pandemic, nearly two thirds of drivers involved in serious or fatal wrecks had drugs or alcohol in their system.

    Before the pandemic, roughly half of drivers in serious crashes had drugs or alcohol in their system.

    The report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says “drug prevalence was high among seriously and fatally injured roadway users before the public health emergency began, and was even higher during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for alcohol, marijuana, and opioids.”

     

    Written by D.M. Eaton

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