AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas has suffered the most fatal crashes during Memorial Day weekend over the past decade, with Houston and Dallas leading nationally as the top two cities for fatalities, according to a study from car insurance company Jerry.
The study, conducted by former Bloomberg economics editor Henry Hoenig, who now works for Jerry, used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It found that 42% of the people who died were between the ages of 16 and 35. Key causes of those crashes were speed (52%) and intoxication (67%).
A 2020 study published in the journal BMC Research Notes examined the holiday weekend using data from 1981 to 2016. It found that all people in the U.S., regardless of age, gender or location, are at increased risk during the weekend.
“In our study, most of the factors with the increased risk during the holiday are the reflection of presumed increased exposure, such as increased holiday travel by distance, time and increased traffic volume,” the study’s discussion section reads. “Therefore, public campaigns are needed to improve road safety of all road users and focus on reminding travelers to expect delays and increased congestion.”
‘100 deadliest days’ begins
The weekend is also the start of what motor club federation AAA calls the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ of summer.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is currently in the middle of a ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign, directing statewide law enforcement to work overtime on ticketing drivers and passengers who fail to wear a seatbelt.
Glynda Chu, public information officer for TxDOT’s Austin District, said that buckling up only takes a few seconds to save your life.
“As long as there’s one person not buckling up, that’s one person that is at risk for losing their life or being seriously injured,” Chu said.
According to a TxDOT press release, fines and court costs for these tickets can exceed $250. Further data from TxDOT shows that 10% of Texans do not wear their seatbelts.
“People, they get in a hurry. Sometimes a lot of us are in a hurry and we think, ‘Oh, we’re just running down to the store, or it’s uncomfortable,'” Chu said. “When you think about being uncomfortable, think about being in a wheelchair for the rest of your life — that would be horrible and uncomfortable. And that has happened to so many people who didn’t take that second to buckle up.”
The campaign features the story of Dripping Springs woman Eden Ganzerla, who suffered a traumatic brain injury after surviving a collision in which she did not wear a seatbelt. A TxDOT press release states that Ganzerla “broke nearly every bone in her body.”
Ganzerla spoke to TxDOT about her accident:
“It’s critical for everyone to take just a few seconds to buckle up, every ride, every time,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams in a press release. “Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important precautions motorists and their passengers can take to protect themselves in a crash. Whatever reason you may have for not buckling up, I promise it’s not worth your life.”
The agency also notes that the last day without a death on Texas roads was Nov. 7, 2000.
Forbes: Texas drivers rank worst in nation
Forbes Advisor analyzed drivers in each state and Washington, D.C. who were involved in a fatal crash.
That study looked at the following metrics using averages from between 2018 and 2020: drunk drivers, distracted drivers, drowsy/unconscious drivers, wrong-way drivers, drivers who failed to obey traffic signs and drivers who looked at their phones.
It ranked Texas as having the worst overall drivers, followed by Louisiana, Kansas and Oklahoma.
Specifically, Texas ranked the second worst in drowsy drivers and wrong-way drivers. The state also ranked third for drunk drivers and ninth for distracted drivers.