People might be shocked to learn that the number of car crashes reported in Texarkana last year – 2,320 – has not increased this year. It’s just that readers are seeing more of them being reported in the news. Still, those numbers this year are much too high.
The Texas side of Texarkana had 1,431 vehicle accidents in 2013.
“So far, with us being half way through the year, we are at 648 reported crashes for 2014,” said Sgt. Mike Harris of the Texarkana Texas Police Department. “So at this time we are showing a slight decrease, but that is subject to change with winter weather still to come,” he said.
The Arkansas side of town had 889 crashes in 2013, said Kristi Mitchell, public information officer for the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department. The Arkansas side of town now stands at 340 car accidents for 2014.
That makes for a total of 988 vehicle accidents reported to the police inside the city limits so far this year. Mitchell encouraged drivers to use caution when operating a motor vehicle.
“The Texarkana Arkansas Police would like to remind all citizens to pay attention on the roadway, especially in construction areas and where children often play. Distracted driving is the number one cause of traffic accidents in Texarkana. “
The Texas Department of Transportation recently held a statewide “Distracted Driving Summit” to educate business leaders and small business owners about the dangers of texting while driving, and ways to protect their employees, themselves and other motorists on the road.
“Distracted driving is responsible for one in every five crashes in Texas,” said John Barton, TxDOT deputy executive director. “When employees crash on company time while using a mobile device, employers can be held liable for significant damages.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that employers in Texas spend $4.3 billion every year as a result of on-and off-the-job traffic crashes that can result in medical claims, absences and lost productivity. An employer’s price tag for an on-the-job crash is about $16,000 per vehicle; $76,000 per injury; and $505,000 per fatality. In recent years, numerous plaintiffs have filed and won multi-million-dollar lawsuits against employers when their employee caused injuries due to a distracted driving crash.
Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety say drivers who use a cell phone behind the wheel are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. In addition, a study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute revealed almost half of Texas drivers have admitted to using a cell phone while driving, and almost a quarter of drivers say they sometimes or regularly send or read text messages while driving.
Distracted driving-related crashes in Texas are highest among young adults ages 16 to 24, followed by adults over the age of 44. Last year in Texas, 505 people were killed and 19,981 people were seriously injured in distracted-driving crashes.
The Distracted Driving Summit is part of TxDOT’s “Talk, Text, Crash” campaign to warn motorists of the dangers of being unfocused behind the wheel. While cell phone use is the most recognizable driving distraction, any behavior that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road is dangerous. Distractions may include:
- Checking email
- Eating and drinking
- Programming a navigation system
- Adjusting a radio, CD player or other audio device
Including distractions, Sgt. Harris with the TTPD added that other factors also play a major role in car crashes. Drivers should take heed.
“I can tell you that the majority of crashes are caused by speed, unsafe lane changes, driving while intoxicated, and traffic signal violations,” he said.