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Articles Posted in Traffic safety

Another Saturday night, another Fort Worth DWI wreck

Three people tragically died in a Fort Worth DWI wreck when a drunk driver of a pickup truck speeding the wrong way crashed into their car on NE Loop 820. A father, mother and their 9-year-old daughter from Dallas died at the scene. The pickup truck driver was helicoptered to a hospital in Fort Worth with life-threatening injuries. He has been charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter with bond set at $100,000 per death. A lot of good that will do now. When will the next Fort Worth DWI wreck happen and how can we stop it?

Every Fort Worth DWI wreck is 100% preventable

Bill-Berenson-running-near-US-CapitolNew federal legislation will curb giant injury and death toll on roads

Hurray! The U. S. House of Representatives has just passed the Moving Forward Act. It allots one-half trillion dollars for transportation initiatives that will make our roads safer. It now moves to the Senate, where hopefully it will be passed and then signed into law. This legislation is urgent.

(The photo was taken during the Marine Corp Marathon when Mr. Berenson was running a marathon in every state.)

That is because, forgotten in the grim daily news about the pandemic, is that each year over 36,000 Americans die and two million others are injured in motor vehicle collisions. They happen 24/7. They can happen to anyone who is driving. Here in Texas, we have not had a day without at least one death on our highways for almost 20 years. That’s disgraceful.

Virtually all of these car and truck crashes are caused by human error and are clearly preventable. But we need to crack down on them since relying on drivers to follow the traffic laws and simply keep their eyes on the road has clearly been unsuccessful.

The Moving Forward Act (H.R.2) includes a grab bag of badly needed safety measures. These will make our highways and vehicles safer by doing the following things:

  • Requiring driver assistance systems like lane drift warnings, blind spot monitors, and emergency automatic braking to be standard (not expensive package price options as they are now) features in new vehicles. They can stop collisions before they happen.
  • Implementing technology to curb DWIs and DUIs by detecting intoxicated or impaired driver behavior, leading causes of crashes in our highways; a
  • Enhancing commercial truck safety by improving under ride and side guards and keeping tired 18-wheeler drivers off of our roads.

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When three drivers are speeding at 100 mph, a deadly crash is inevitable

There is no excuse for driving too fast. Anytime you do, you put yourself, your passengers, and every one else on the road at tremendous risk. People who speed will crash into other vehicles at a much higher rate of speed, set off violent chain reactions, and cause injuries and even deaths. These become heart-breaking stories, like what happened recently in a Dallas crash that tragically ended the life of a 9-year-old girl.

Olivia Mendez was in a car that was making a left turn at Lake June Road in Dallas. She had just graduated from her school that evening and was almost home. But three muscle cars were speeding down the road from the other direction. The driver of a Dodge Challenger couldn’t stop in time and slammed into the girl’s car, throwing her from it. Her parents and her 3-year-old sister were also seriously injured. The police arrested the three racers and I hope they get long sentences. But nothing can replace the life of this sweet young child. We made a donation to the family’s GoFundMe site and hope you can as well.

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Near Same Location as Deadly Wrong-Way Crash Last Year

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Texas leads the country in many ways. But not all of them are good, like being #1 in the number of times a wrong-way crash happens. Sadly, 237 Texans die in these collisions each year and one of these easily preventable collisions just happened again. This time a driver sped down the wrong side of Jacksboro Highway near Lakeside and slammed head-on into another vehicle. The other driver was hospitalized and was lucky to survive.

There are several reasons why these idiotic wrong-way crashes happen. Usually of course it’s alcohol and/or drugs. But sometimes a driver is on medications, drowsy, easily confused, or elderly. And in crazy cases, these crashes happen when the driver is fleeing the police, as was the case earlier this year at almost the same location.

In all cases, we must do more to stop innocent motorists from being hurt.

Using Modern Technology to Reduce Their Frequency 

Texas transportation authorities are taking steps reduce the number of wrong-way crashes. These techniques include sensors and related technological devices that notify law enforcement officers when a driver has entered a highway going the wrong way.

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Ticket for Texting and DrivingI call on Dallas, Fort Worth, and the other cities in North Texas to establish a car crash task force to reduce our high death and injury rate on our roads. I understand that no one wants to be stopped and given a traffic ticket. And sometimes the cop is overly aggressive and the driver hasn’t been speeding or isn’t over the blood alcohol limit. But we have a shocking 80,000 car wrecks in Dallas and Tarrant Counties every year — 220 a day — that injure and take the lives of innocent drivers.

An illuminating article last week in the Houston Chronicle followed up on its previous investigation into that city’s worst auto crash rate in the country ranking. And the newspaper found that there enforcement of traffic laws had been reduced although officials knew that fatalities and personal injuries were rising. Now, in only two days in Houston, the officers on a new task force made over 400 traffic stops, wrote almost 300 tickets, and arrested 38 people — including 23 for DWI.

You never think you will be injured in a car accident. But after work yesterday, I drove a settlement check to a client who had major surgery after a young driver ran a light. I was saddened that the poor woman is still hobbling around behind a walker six weeks later. I took her to her bank since she has no car and is not able to work.

And I met a client this morning to advance her money to help pay for the surgery she is having later today after a drunk driver crashed into her car.

It is obvious that we are not doing enough to protect the public from bad drivers.

My guess is that DFW area police would have the same results here as in Houston since we know we have a major problem.  Tarrant County has 10 “No refusal weekends” throughout the year where blood draws to curtail DWIs are mandatory. This past Super Bowl weekend was one of them and the Stock Show weekends going on down University Drive from my building are also on the list.

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Our Roads Will Be Safer With Fewer Bad Teen Drivers

Sadly, car crashes are the leading cause of adolescent deaths across the United States. Worse, the rate of teenage motor fatalities is on the rise. But we make bad teen drivers drive more responsibly and protect their lives as well as our own. How? Here are some useful tips that will help parents keep kids safer behind the wheel.

Teenagers Become Better Drivers

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Electric Bicycles To Be Available in Fort Worth Soon

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You are starting to see a few people riding around on electric bicycles and electric scooters and might think they are good ideas. They encourage people to exercise, reduce our ever-increasing road congestion, and help protect the environment, so I was interested when Fort Worth just announced that its B-Cycle bicycle sharing program will add 50 electric assisted bicycles in April.

B-Cycle had test rides available yesterday so I hopped on one at City Hall before work to check them out.

But are self-driving vehicles safe?

Three vans that move slowly without drivers will be available to ride around the stadiums/Six Flags area in Arlington starting today. Presumably other Texas cities are considering the use of self-driving vehicles. But while some people say they are the future of transportation, most are frightened.

Proponents of this new technology say that these vehicles are far safer than the ones on the road now. With 84,000 crashes each year just here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties, that’s hard to dispute. And disability advocates argue that handicapped people will be able to get around easier.

On the other hand, skeptics point to several fatal collisions and argue that there are not enough safety procedures to protect the driving public from robotic vehicles on the open roads.

Both sides are right.

Congrats to Arlington, “America’s Dream City,” for pushing the Dallas-Fort Worth area forward and trying to make our streets safer. The new service from an exciting California start up company called driver.ai starts this weekend. Next weekend, the hours will be from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I am always advocating for safer roads and am planning to ride one of the vans tomorrow to learn more. I’ll give you a full report Monday.

I was leaving my office Sunday afternoon when I drove by this SUV which had driven into a huge hole after a water main had ruptured. Fortunately no one was injured, but this could have led to some serious injuries.

It is frightening that Texas’s roads were just rated a D in this report.

Our highways are sometimes designed and maintained poorly and cause crashes. Over the past nearly 40 years, I have seen these road hazards that have led to sometimes catastrophic car and truck wrecks:

  • Huge potholes and cracks
  • Large debris and standing water
  • Inadequate or nonexistent shoulders with steep drop-offs
  • Overgrown trees blocking visibility of signs and other vehicles
  • Missing or malfunctioning traffic signals and signs
  • Poorly designed bridges, curves or grades
  • Inadequate lights
  • Poorly designed or placed signs
  • Dangerous ridging and buckling of pavement Continue reading

One of the downsides of living here in the fastest growing area in the U. S. is the huge increase in traffic — and car crashes — on our roads. An article in today’s Star Telegram asks if DFW is going to be the next LA?

A jaw-dropping 150,000 people moved to our area just last year. When I first moved to Dallas in the mid 70’s to attend SMU Law School, that number was the entire population of Arlington.

Now consider that we have 80,000 auto collisions in Dallas and Tarrant Counties each year.

That puts DFW squarely in the urban planning nightmare: more people = more highways = more collisions.

This article shows that even after $1.6 billion was just spent widening the notoriously dangerous Interstate 35 north of downtown Fort Worth, there are still serious problems there.

I resolved a tragic collision case at its new interchange with Loop 820 last year after a man died after crashing into this piece of road construction equipment. It had darted across the interstate in front of his small car in the middle of the night, causing his death.

Most of us drivers dislike seeing the bright orange “work zone ahead” signs, especially during our morning or afternoon commutes. And while these signs may indicate upcoming traffic jams, detours, and other inconveniences, they are there for our safety and for the protection of the people at work.

When you see a road work sign, remember to be extra vigilant of your surroundings and be prepared for sudden stops, turns, debris, workers, and construction equipment.

There were over 25,000 automobile wrecks in work zones last year in Texas according to the Texas Department of Transportation, up 30% over the past few years.

Here is a good link that can show you how to avoid these congested areas and get to where you are driving safely.

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