Could Texas End the Streak of roadway fatalities? So far, no, despite 2020 declines in traffic across Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin

Traffic crashes are down statewide, but the Texas Department of Transportation is reporting traffic fatalities have remained the same despite fewer drivers on the road. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Traffic crashes are down statewide, but the Texas Department of Transportation is reporting traffic fatalities have remained the same despite fewer drivers on the road. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Traffic crashes are down statewide, but the Texas Department of Transportation is reporting traffic fatalities have remained the same despite fewer drivers on the road. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Traffic fatalities on roads throughout Texas have continued at roughly the same pace in 2020 despite major Texas metros seeing a drop in the number of reported crashes and traffic volumes.

Between Jan. 1 and April 15, the number of traffic crashes dropped between 11% and 15% in 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019 in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros, according to an April 21 analysis of Texas Department of Transportation data by Community Impact Newspaper. However, data from TxDOT shows the number of traffic fatalities has only dropped by 3.35% in the same time period in 2020 compared to 2019.

TxDOT’s Crash Records Information System denotes the number of traffic fatalities between Jan. 1 and April 15 only declined from 865 deaths in 2019 to 836 during the same time period in 2020.

Veronica Beyer, director of media relations for TxDOT, said the agency reported 12 fatalities Feb. 22 and 11 fatalities on March 22 when the state was under stay-at-home orders.

“We’ve always believed that ending the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways is achievable,” she said. “Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Despite the drop in traffic and despite the drop in crashes in certain areas across the state we are still seeing traffic deaths.”

Beyer said further analysis of the contributing factors into the traffic deaths showed one to be failure to stay in one lane, which includes speeding, texting while driving or driving drunk. Driving at an unsafe speed and failure to control speed were other top factors leading to the fatalities, she said.

“These are things that are preventable,” Beyer said. “We are the ones as drivers who can make better decisions behind the wheel. We are the ones who have the power to put the phone down, drive the safe speed limit.”

Since Nov. 7, 2000, the state has not had a day without a traffic fatality and sees an average of 10 deaths on Texas roadways each day, according to TxDOT. The agency launched its #EndTheStreakTX campaign to spread the message of obeying traffic laws and staying safe on the road.

“We’re still seeing way too high of a number of fatalities,” Beyer said.

TxDOT analyzed the traffic volume for the week April 4-10 and compared it to a base week of Feb. 22-28 prior to any business closures and stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus. Data shows traffic dropped by 44% with the largest drops in San Antonio, which saw a decline by 50%, and in Austin, which saw traffic drop by 49%.

The weekend had the biggest drop in traffic by 55% for April 4-5 throughout the state.

However, more drivers were on the roads during the week of April 11-17 as traffic across the state was only down 41% compared to the base week in February, according to TxDOT traffic volume data.

Here is a look at how traffic crashes have dropped in counties covered by Community Impact Newspaper:

Central Texas area

Dallas-Fort Worth metro

Houston metro


Bikers ride up Shoal Creek Boulevard in February. A bond proposal from Austin would fund additional bike lanes, sidewalk reconstruction, capital improvements and more. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin will send $460 million transportation bond to voters in November

The bond would fund include capital improvements to a number of projects, including the Longhorn Dam Bridge over Lady Bird Lake. The cost to the median Austin taxpayer would be about $77-$80 per year.

The future location on South Congress Avenue would be the third located in the South Austin area. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
P. Terry's plans for S. Congress drive-thru and more Austin-area news

Read the latest Austin-area business and community news.

Tesla announced its decision to bring its next gigafactory to Travis County on July 22. (Jay Jones/Community Impact Newspaper)
Tesla posts first gigafactory jobs as construction gets underway in Travis County

The company has 49 active listings for Austin-area jobs related to the gigafactory and other operations.

A police officer rides past protesters during the June 7 Justice for Them All March. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police transformation begins in Austin as City Council approves millions in budget cuts, reinvestments, commitments

The move comes in response to a national and local reckoning over police brutality and the future of public safety.

Capital Metro's plan to build rail lines and expand its public transportation network, Project Connect, will head to voters in the city of Austin on Nov. 3. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Project Connect officially in the hands of Austin voters Nov. 3

Austin City Council took its final vote Aug. 13 on a plan to ask voters for approximately $3.85 billion in local revenue to expand the city's public transportation network.

Austin Regional Clinic location
Austin Regional Clinic now recruiting for coronavirus vaccine trial

Local health care provider Austin Regional Clinic will recruit 250 patients from the Austin area to participate in a late-phase clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine.

(Courtesy AMC Theatres)
AMC Theatres to reopen Aug. 20 with 15-cent tickets

AMC Theatres—which has multiple locations in the Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas—will begin reopening its movie screens Aug. 20.

Austin bars scrap for survival during monthslong shutdown

Bars are fighting through red tape to reclassify as restaurants, offering takeout orders and finding new uses for their spaces. Local business owners said they are finding every avenue possible to survive.

According to the report, 380,174 total COVID-19 cases have been reported in children nationwide as of Aug. 6, which accounts for approximately 9.1% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
REPORT: COVID-19 cases in children increase by 90% nationwide in 1 month

As school district officials across the U.S. prepare for the start of the 2020-21 school year, 179,990 new COVID-19 cases were reported in children nationwide between July 9 and Aug. 6—an increase of 90%, according to a report compiled by The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.

Burnet Road and Braker Lane
City pushing to finish Burnet Road improvements before Austin FC stadium opener

Austin construction crews will work to finish improvements at the intersection of Burnet Road and Braker Lane in North Austin before Major League Soccer franchise Austin FC plays its first game in the upcoming stadium at McKalla Place.

Austin City Council is considering moving the forensics lab services and internal affairs department out from under the Austin Police Department and into civilian roles. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police cuts, community reinvestment, reimagining public safety on table as Austin City Council looks to adopt budget

City Council is considering a cut of more than a $150 million to the police budget.