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  • A Technical Memorandum for: Traffic Operation Division

    Texas Department of Transportation

    Submitted by the TEXAS A&M TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE

    Authors: Troy D. Walden, Ph.D.

    Myunghoon Ko, Ph.D., P.E. Lingtao Wu, M.S.

    COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF FATAL CRASHES IN TEXAS VS. CALIFORNIA

    AND IMPLICATIONS FOR TRAFFIC SAFETY IN TEXAS

  • 1

    Technical Memorandum

    Comparative Analysis of Fatal Crashes in Texas vs. California and

    Implications for Traffic Safety in Texas

    Prelude Texas and California are the two largest states in the contiguous United States;

    and as such, both states are experiencing higher traffic fatalities than other states (FARS

    2014e). In recent years, the two states have experienced distinctively different trends in

    terms of traffic safety statistics. Until 2007, California recorded more traffic fatalities

    than Texas. Since that time, Texas has surpassed California in the recorded number of

    traffic fatalities, and the difference between the states is only growing. This translates to a

    greater risk of fatal crashes on Texas roadways than in California.

    The purpose of this technical memorandum is to summarize the differences in

    traffic fatalities between Texas and California and identify which factors and programs

    implemented by California reduced fatalities significantly. The results should inform the

    Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in decision-making related to statewide

    management of traffic safety, countermeasures, programs and policy development in

    Texas.

    This technical memorandum is organized into the following sections:

     Introduction,

     Time of Day,

     Vehicle Types,

     Location,

     Driver Behavior,

     Driver Impairment,

     Distracted Driving,

     Environment, and

     Economic Factors.

  • 2

    Appendix A provides a detailed comparison of California and Texas Highway

    Traffic Safety Programs, specifically in terms of the outlay of highway safety funding

    dollars. The safety countermeasure projects selected by each state address safety

    emphasis areas identified through project activities. The intent of the appendix is to

    provide readers with a fundamental understanding of the differences between priority

    fiscal spending and the application of projects as countermeasures to address crash

    frequency and severity.

  • 3

    Table of Contents

    Table of Contents ............................................................................................................ 3

    List of Figures ................................................................................................................. 5

    List of Tables ................................................................................................................... 6

    Introduction ..................................................................................................................... 9

    Time of Day .................................................................................................................. 14

    Fatal Crashes in Morning and Afternoon Commuting Hours ................................... 14

    Vehicle Type ................................................................................................................. 17

    Fatal Crashes by Vehicle Type .................................................................................. 17

    Passenger Cars ........................................................................................................... 18

    Light and Large Trucks ............................................................................................. 18

    Motorcycles ............................................................................................................... 20

    Pedestrians ................................................................................................................. 23

    Pedal-cyclist............................................................................................................... 24

    Location ......................................................................................................................... 27

    Fatal Crashes on Rural Highways ............................................................................. 27

    Fatality Comparison between Rural and Urban Areas .............................................. 28

    Fatal Crashes in a Work Zone ................................................................................... 29

    Intersection/-Related Fatal Crashes ........................................................................... 32

    Automated Enforcement ............................................................................................ 33

    Fatalities of Head-on Collisions ................................................................................ 34

    Driver Behavior ............................................................................................................. 36

    Use of Seatbelt in Fatal Crashes ................................................................................ 36

    Seatbelt and Child Safety Seat Laws ......................................................................... 36

    Occupant Protection Safety Projects in California .................................................... 37

    Seat-belt Not Used ..................................................................................................... 38

    Highlighted Promising Practice Projects: Occupant Protection in California ........... 39

    Fatal Crashes and Speed Limits ................................................................................. 40

    Speed Limit Policy .................................................................................................... 40

    Driver Impairment ......................................................................................................... 42

    Fatal Crashes Involving Alcohol-Impaired Driving .................................................. 42

    Policy and Laws against Alcohol-Impaired Driving ................................................. 42

  • 4

    Fatal Crashes Involving Drug-Impaired Driving ....................................................... 48

    Highlighted Promising Practice Projects: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (California) ................................................................................................................ 49

    Alcohol-Impaired Driving and Drug-Impaired Driving Trends: 2003-2012 ............ 50

    Distracted Driving ......................................................................................................... 53

    Fatal Crashes Involving Distraction and Inattention - Cellphone Use and Texting .. 53

    Distraction and Inattention Trends: 2003-2012 ......................................................... 55

    Environment .................................................................................................................. 57

    Public Road Length (miles) per One Law Enforcement Officer ............................... 57

    Police Traffic Services Projects in California ........................................................... 57

    Highlighted Promising Practice Projects: Police Traffic Services (California) ........ 58

    Economic Factors .......................................................................................................... 61

    Trends of Economy ................................................................................................... 61

    Changes of Gasoline Prices and Effect on Transportation Modes ............................ 61

    Conclusions ................................................................................................................... 64

    References ..................................................................................................................... 66

    APPENDIX A ............................................................................................................... 69

  • 5

    List of Figures

    Figure 1 (a&b) Fatal crashes, fatalities and fatality rates in Texas and California in 2012 ........................................................................................................................................... 10 Figure 2 (a, b, c & b) Trends of Fatalities and Fatality Rate in California and Texas ...... 13 Figure 3 Fatal crashes in the morning and afternoon rush hours in Texas and California in 2012................................................................................................................................... 14 Figure 4 (a & b) Fatal Crashes in Morning and Afternoon Rush Hours, California vs. Texas ................................................................................................................................. 16 Figure 5 Fatalities by vehicle types in 2012 ..................................................................... 17 Figure 6 Fatalities by Vehicle Types – Passenger Cars .................................................... 18 Figure 7 Fatalities by Vehicle Types – Light Trucks ...................................