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Articles Posted in Traffic safety

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The pandemic caused people to drive less last year. Roads were almost empty for months due to lockdowns, virtual work and school, and home deliveries. So a new report showing that 2020 was one of the worst years for fatal car accidents came as a shock to safety officials.

All time high for fatal car accidents

According to the National Safety Council

  • Over 42,000 Americans lost their lives in car accidents in 2020 — a huge increase over the year before and the highest total in 13 years;
  • A shocking 5,000,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes last year;
  • For the first half of 2020, while the number of miles dropped by 17%, the number of fatal car accidents increased by 20%;
  • Collisions are now the leading cause of death for our children and young people from ages 1-25; and
  • The cost to our country is an astonishing one-half trillion dollars a year.
  • Almost 4,000 Texans perished in a vehicle crash, the highest total in years. Year after year, Texas has the highest number of fatal car accidents in the United States.

This is crazy. How could this possibly have happened?

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IMG_7120After the horrific February 11th chain reaction that took the lives of six people and injured scores of others, it was announced that a federal agency would investigate. Well, that was the least that could happen. We need to find out what caused Fort Worth’s deadly crash and how another tragedy like this can be avoided.

However, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that the National Transportation Safety Board will only look into whether the toll lanes had been deiced before the historic storm shut down Texas for a week – if it makes a report at all.

Critics say a complete investigation and remedial action is needed. We wholeheartedly agree.

winter_driving_infographicA winter weather advisory is in effect for North Texas today. There is a good chance of freezing temperatures and rain that could leave a sheet of ice on our roads and bridges.

By Saturday night, the wind chill may be almost zero degrees. We may break all-time low records on Sunday. The roads could be treacherous by then.

Texans rarely have to drive on dangerous streets, so the chance of being in a car or truck crash will multiply. Hitting a patch of ice could lead to disaster.

Here is a real-time map that will help you plan a safe route from DriveTexas.org.

The problem is compounded because other drivers will forget to slow down. Others will continue to text and drive. Even worse, some will drink and drive.

Unfortunately, police officers and emergency rooms (and yes, personal injury lawyers) will be busier than usual.

Tips to keep you safe

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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.

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