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Lawmakers struggle with ways to make state roads safer

Texas has the unhappy distinction of leading the nation in motor vehicle accident fatalities. The Texas Department of Transportation reported 3,721 traffic deaths in 2017, the most recent year for which final statistics are available.

While this number represented a decrease from the year before, it was still outrageously high. According to the Transportation Department, someone was killed on Texas roadways every 2 hours 21 minutes on average in 2017. Someone was injured in a crash every 2 minutes 4 seconds.

Lawmakers have struggled to come up with effective ways of making Texas roads safer. One measure under consideration in the state senate would prohibit drivers from using an electronic device unless it is hands-free. Currently, it is illegal to text while driving, but drivers are free to do other things with their cellphones and other digital devices. The Transportation Department statistics show distracted driving was involved in more than 100,000 accidents in 2017.

Another proposal seeks to lower the default speed limit on roadways from 30 mph to 25 mph. This would apply to roads that do not have a posted speed limit, many of which are in residential areas. Proponents say the measure would make it easier for local governments to enforce safety laws and protect children and pedestrians.

Still another measure aims to beef up protections for pedestrians. Currently, Texas law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks when there is a walk sign or no traffic lights. The new bill requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

It's unclear whether any of these measures will become law, or whether they will be effective if they do.

One way to discourage dangerous driving is through personal injury lawsuits. The injured and their families face enormous medical and personal difficulties in the aftermath of an accident caused by the negligence of another driver. A personal injury lawsuit can help accident victims recover compensation and can be crucial to their post-injury needs. It can also be an important way of holding negligent drivers accountable and encouraging other drivers to be more careful.

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