There’s no denying the danger of Texas roads. The Lone Star State often finds itself in the unenviable top position in auto accident lists; an analysis of fatal car accidents by state by Wisevoter found that Texas has the highest number of fatal car accidents. Fox News ranked Interstate Highway 45 (I-45) in its rundown of the most dangerous roads in America — with Budget Direct naming the Galveston-to-Dallas section as the deadliest road in the country, averaging over 56 fatal crashes per 100 miles.
The primary cause?
But what other factors contribute to the glut of auto accidents that happen each day in Texas? What role does the state’s myriad number of semi-trucks — which support the economy by transporting tons of freight including hazardous materials, equipment, and commodities — play? How much of a problem is drunk driving? Are some Texas counties more dangerous than others based on total accident count and injury severity?
In this study and analysis, the legal team at San Antonio and McAllen personal injury firm Patino Law answers these questions and more. We’ve painstakingly compiled crash data from the thousands of accidents that occurred in the state from January to September 2023, providing key insights such as:
- What vehicles are most commonly involved in accidents
- The most dangerous roads in the state based on crash count
- How many accidents involved unlicensed drivers
- The deadliest county
- The top charges filed against drivers involved in collisions
- The month, day, and hour that yielded the most accidents.
Using data gathered via the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Crash Records Information System (C.R.I.S.), we present the latest auto accident statistics.
Patino Law Firm is the only place to see these all in one place without going into C.R.I.S. and analyzing the data for yourself.
We’ve also compared our findings against the same period in 2022, allowing you to see how road activity and driver behavior have changed year on year.
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Texas Drunk-Driving Accidents
Total Texas Drunk-Driving Accidents (2023)
A drunk-driving accident here is defined as any crash citing contributing factors of “under the influence of alcohol” or “had been drinking”, or where a person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test was greater than zero.
Texas recorded a total of 19,221 drunk-driving accidents from January to September 2023.
At a county level, Harris County took the lead, with 2,739 drunk-driving crashes recorded, followed by Dallas (1,670), Bexar (1,552), and Tarrant (1,295). 10 counties — among them Coke, Baylor, and King County — reported only one drunk-driving crash in the first nine months of the year.
Interestingly, these counties are similar in land area — Baylor is only marginally smaller than second-place Dallas with an area of 867.48 square miles (versus Dallas’ 873.06 square miles), while King and Coke County are larger, with square mileages of 910.87 and 911.47, respectively. So why such a huge discrepancy?
It comes down to population density. The population counts of the counties reporting fewer crashes are much lower:
Total Texas Drunk-Driving Accidents (2022)
How do the 2023 figures compare to 2022?
In the first nine months of 2022, there were 20,163 total drunk-driving crashes. Harris once again topped the county count with 2,958 crashes, followed by Dallas (1,840) and Bexar (1,612). Travis claimed the fourth spot with 1,250 crashes.
These statistics mean that, at a total level, drunk-driving crashes fell this year when compared to the same period in 2022. Accidents declined from 20,163 crashes to 19,221, representing a 4.67% drop.
Most Texas counties saw the number of drunk-driving accidents decline from 2022 to 2023, resulting in a lower total overall. Harris saw crashes fall from 2,958 to 2,739 (219 fewer crashes), a notable difference given the higher numbers.
However, several counties reported an increase, including Anderson, Cameron, Montgomery, Galveston, Tarrant, Taylor, and Lubbock.
Number of People Involved in Drunk-Driving Crashes (2023)
When looking solely at data, it’s all too easy to see a small dip in crash numbers and write it off as a minimal change. But the reality is that every decrease in crash statistics often means at least one life saved — at the very least, it represents at least one fewer person sustaining potentially life-changing injuries, and the impact of that, not just on their life but also on the lives of their loved ones, cannot be understated.
This impact becomes even more apparent when we consider the number of people involved in drunk-driving accidents.
Many drunk-driving accidents (9,024) in 2023 were single-vehicle crashes, but notably, more than half of all collisions (10,197, or 53%) were multi-vehicle crashes. Of these accidents, most involved two individuals (5,232).
The largest-scale drunk-driving accident in 2023 so far involved 52 people. This crash occurred on Friday, March 24th at 4:10 pm on S Pruett Street in Baytown, Harris. The weather was cloudy at the time, although the road was wet.
Looking at the crash report allows us to piece together what type of accident it was and how it happened. The incident was attributed to driver intoxication, a pedestrian failing to yield the right of way, following too closely, and — alarmingly — failing to stop for a school bus.
The driver of the first vehicle, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup, was a 74-year-old male who tested positive for drinking alcohol with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.266.
The second vehicle, the school bus, sustained minor back-end damage. Fortunately, neither the driver nor the 49 children aged five to 11 on the school bus were injured, but it is not difficult to imagine how differently this accident could have turned out.
Number of People Involved in Drunk-Driving Accidents (2022)
2022 paints a similar picture. There were 9,656 single-vehicle drunk-driving accidents in 2022 versus 10,507 multi-vehicle crashes. While the overall number of crashes was higher in 2022, multi-vehicle accidents comprised 52.1% of total crashes, marginally lower than in 2023 (53%).
Injury Severity in Drunk-Driving Crashes
In terms of the injury severity of drunk-driving crashes, the number of people not injured, who sustained serious, possible, or fatal injuries, and where the injury severity was unknown all declined, in line with the overall year-on-year decrease.
Fatal injuries notably decreased from 1,062 in 2022 to 820 in 2023. However, the number of suspected minor injuries increased, with 4,782 people sustaining these injuries in drunk-driving crashes from January to September.
The Most Dangerous Roads in Texas
These charts show the top 50 most dangerous roads in the state based on reported accidents.
Interstate 10 topped the list as the most dangerous road in 2023, with a staggering 13,763 crashes. Interstate 45 and Interstate 35 followed with 11,173 and 10,506 crashes, respectively.
Many of the most dangerous Texas roads are Interstate Highways. These serve vital roles in today’s US transportation network, providing high-speed routes for long-distance travel and transport. They also span many of Texas’s regions, cities, towns, and beyond, so it is not surprising many accidents in the Lone Star State occur on these roadways.
Interstate Highway 10
Interstate Highway (I-10) stretches some 2,460 miles across the Southern United States. It begins in Santa Monica, California, and travels eastward through Arizona, Texas, and New Orleans to Florida.
I-10 is a major Texas roadway, connecting major cities including El Paso, San Antonio, and Houston. As such, it is the most dangerous road in Texas and the source of 13,763 accidents from January to September 2023.
I-10 also has several junctions that connect to various major cities, including I-35 in San Antonio and I-45 in Houston.
Interstate Highway 45
Interstate Highway 45 (I-45) runs from Galveston to Dallas. Spanning 284.9 miles in length, this highway is shorter than the I-10 but forms a crucial north-south transportation corridor in Texas, linking major Texan cities such as Houston and Dallas. Unsurprisingly given its coverage of the state, 11,173 accidents have occurred on this highway to date.
Interstate Highway 35
Another major north-south highway, Interstate Highway 35 (I-35) stretches from Laredo, Texas on the American-Mexican border up to Duluth, Minnesota. Over ten thousand accidents have occurred this year to date on the section of I-35 spanning Texas.
Along its extensive route, IH0035 traverses through several major cities including San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.
Interstate Highway 35E
Interstate Highway 35E (I-35E) is a branch of I-35 that passes through Dallas and Fort Worth. Despite being a much shorter highway, it was nonetheless the site of 5,012 accidents from January to September.
U.S Highway 290
U.S. Highway 290 (US0290) is a major highway — some 261 miles long — spanning the West Texas town of Iraan in Pecos County to Houston. Along the way, it passes through Junction, Fredericksburg, Austin, and Brenham and intersects with I-10 and I-35. Far fewer accidents happened on US0290 compared to Interstate Highways of a similar length, with a total of 3,467.
Interstate 2 and U.S. Highway 83
U.S. Highway 83 (US 83) is a pivotal roadway extending from the Canadian border in North Dakota to the Mexican border in Texas. Its nickname, “The Road to Nowhere” originates from its route through the Great Plains, though it spans the entire South Texas valley from its southern terminus in Brownsville. In Harlingen, Cameron County, it merges with Interstate 2 (I-2), which serves as the principal east-west corridor in the Rio Grande Valley and traverses the Hidalgo County cities of Mercedes, Weslaco, Donna, Alamo, Pharr, McAllen, Mission, and Peñitas.
In Penitas, US 83 passes through Starr and Zapata, then on through Laredo, Uvalde, Junction, and Wellington. At the Oklahoma state line, US 83 continues north through Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.
US 83 saw 1,801 accidents occur in Texas in 2023, though far more (2,153) occurred on the 47 miles comprising I-2 — unsurprising given the breadth of the RGV it covers.
Total Crashes by County, Month, Day, and Time
Crashes by County
Harris County reported the most crashes in both 2022 and 2023, and crashes notably increased year on year, from 98,691 accidents reported from January to September in 2022 to 99,478 reported in the same period this year.
Dallas was the second-highest county based on accident count in 2022 with 45,317 accidents recorded — almost half Harris’ total — but crashes fell in 2023 to 43,301, allowing Bexar County (reporting 43,919) accidents to take the second-place spot.
Crashes by Month and County
Accidents across the entire state have increased year on year, from 464,555 crashes reported from January to September 2022 to 468,850 reported from January to September 2023.
In terms of time of year, the most accidents occurred in May (55,492 in 2023), although not by a massive margin. The lowest number of accidents to occur in any given month was 47,777 in both 2023 and 2022, although the month changes year on year. In 2022, the “best” month was January (47,777), followed by July (47,859), and February (48,675).
Crashes by Day
Fridays were consistently the days with the most crashes in both 2022 and 2023. There were 18,546 more crashes on Fridays in 2023 than in 2022.
The quietest day on the roads in both years was Sunday, with 42,511 crashes reported in 2022 and 52,745 reported in 2023.
These numbers demonstrate just how many more accidents occurred on Texas roads in 2023. In 2022, there was a difference of 17,744 accidents between Friday and Sunday. In 2023, this increased to Friday compared to Sunday number of crashes on Fridays increased to 26,056.
Crashes by Hour (2023)
Most crashes happened during the day in 2023, with crashes falling during the early hours. The most dangerous time for auto accidents was between 5:00 pm and 5:59 pm, with 38,104 crashes recorded — a likely result of increased traffic as Texans make their way home from work.
The Most-Cited Contributing Factors to Texas Auto Accidents
When a reportable accident occurs in Texas — any accident that causes injury or death must be reported immediately — an investigating officer will create a police report. In this report is a space for the officer to document one or more contributing factors. There are 70 total factors officers can select, ranging from driving while intoxicated to speeding, or officers can add their own. The crash report is vital evidence in a personal injury claim because it can demonstrate how the accident happened and who might be at fault.
So what are the most commonly cited contributing factors for accidents in the Lone Star State?
Driver inattention, failure to control speed, changing lanes unsafely, and failure to drive in a single lane were the most cited factors at a state level. Failed to control speed was the leading contributing factor, cited in 89,529 accidents, but add to that the 13,133 accidents cited as being caused by “unsafe speed”, and the 688 cited as “speeding (over limit)”, and it’s clear that speeding is a significant concern in Texas.
Drilling down at a county level reveals some interesting insights. In Bexar County, the most commonly cited primary contributing factor to accidents in 2023 was driver inattention. Cited in 10,030 accidents, Bexar contributes to over 25% of the state total. Bexar was also the most dangerous county for drivers who were fatigued and fell asleep (330), had road rage (129), and were texting while driving (22).
In Harris County, the leading factor (excluding “no data”) was backing without safety, responsible for 4,884 accidents, followed closely by driver inattention (4,540).
In Hidalgo County, where our McAllen office and many of our clients are based, the leading contributing factor was failing to control speed, causing 4,018 accidents — notably taking it to the third spot on the list behind Harris and Dallas. Backing without safety was the second most cited factor, resulting in 1,202 crashes.
Harris, Dallas, and Bexar top the county counts for most individual contributing factors — understandable given their higher accident counts overall.
The Most-Cited Contributing Factors by Month
We know that May was the most dangerous month for crashes in Texas in 2023, but what were the most common causes of these accidents?
Failed to control speed topped the list at 10,899, consistent with the leading contributing factor across the whole nine months (January to September). Many crashes cited “no data”, with over 4,500 crashes in May caused by driver inattention.
Vehicles Involved in Texas Crashes
Close to two million — 1,198,249 — vehicles were involved in auto crashes in Texas in 2023. It’s worth remembering that this figure is higher than the total number of accidents in the county because many crashes involved two or more vehicles.
The majority of vehicles involved in crashes — 38% — were four-door passenger cars. Sports utility vehicles (294,047) and pickups (218,153) also featured prominently, representing roughly 25% and 18% of total vehicles, respectively.
Driver License State and Type
As is to be expected, most drivers involved in accidents had Texas licenses. For many accidents — 201,308 — the driver’s license was unknown or not recorded (no data), while 10,035 drivers had licenses in Mexico, just across the Texas border. Interestingly, a substantial number of drivers had licenses from California (5,745) and Florida (5,488) — more than neighboring states including New Mexico (5,228), Oklahoma (4,110), and Arkansas (3,252).
In terms of license type, most motorists had driver’s licenses. Over 100 thousand drivers — 103,090 — did not have a license.
The Time Taken to Clear Texas Accident Scenes
This data — taken from crashes that occurred after March 31st, 2023, when this police report field was introduced — reveals that well over half of all crashes in Texas (182,265) were cleared within one hour after the event, with 95,519 cleared within one to two hours. There is then a big drop off, with far fewer crashes taking longer than three hours to clear.
Charges Issued against Drivers
When law enforcement arrives at an accident scene, they may charge drivers with certain offenses for driving violations, from driving while intoxicated (either alcohol or drugs) to speeding.
Of the hundreds of thousands of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians involved in auto accidents in Texas from January to September, many were not charged.
Other top charges included driving without a license, correlating with the high number of motorists involved in crashes who did not have a valid license, and driving while intoxicated.
The Severity of Injuries Sustained in Texas Auto Accidents
An auto accident can cause a range of injuries. Many are lucky to walk away from a crash with no physical injuries, but others sustain life-changing injuries such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and burns.
Then, there are the injuries you can’t see — months or years of post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and mental anguish. This emotional impact can be equally devastating, causing injured parties to become withdrawn, which can impact their work and relationships with loved ones. Tragically, many auto accidents are fatal.
What Each Injury Severity Means
Law enforcement classifies each injury according to the KABCO scale, created by the Federal Highway Administration to evaluate the severity of an auto crash. Each letter of the scale corresponds to a severity type as follows:
A – Suspected serious injury
B – Suspected minor injury
C – Possible injury
O (or N) – Unknown
In Texas, an additional category — 99 — denotes unknown injuries.
Each state categorizes injuries differently. In Texas, crashes are assigned a severity as follows:
- K: if an individual dies from injuries sustained in a crash within 30 days of the accident.
- A: If an individual suffers a severe or incapacitating injury that prevents them from performing normal activities. Example injuries include broken limbs, internal injuries, or a crushed chest.
- B – Minor or non-incapacitating injuries are those that are physically evident but do not affect the injured party’s ability to do normal activities, such as bruises, abrasions, and minor lacerations.
- C – Possible injuries do not result in physical wounds but are reported by an individual or indicated by behavior. Possible injuries can include limping, headaches, or complaints of pain.
- O/N – This severity is assigned to a crash when an individual does not sustain a severe, minor, or possible injury.
The “unknown” category is reserved for crashes where it is impossible to determine whether a person has been injured, such as if they failed to stop and render aid, fled the scene, or were the negligent driver in a hit-and-run accident.
Injury Severity By County
At a total level, 310,520 crashes in 2023 resulted in the people involved sustaining no injuries, up from 243,864 in 2022. Given the increase in overall crashes, this is a positive sign, indicating that many accidents were not severe.
However, reported injuries also increased. Crashes causing suspected minor injuries increased from 39,762 in 2022 to 54,230 in 2023 to date, while possible injuries increased from 50,084 to 63,227, and suspected serious injuries increased from 9,211 to 11,818.
In terms of deadly accidents, there were 2,383 fatal crashes in 2022. In 2023, fatal accidents totaled 2,869. This may seem like a modest increase, especially considering the much higher numbers of other injuries — the more severe of which can have a devastating impact on an accident victim’s quality of life — but we must not forget that these numbers represent at least an additional 486 individuals — assuming single-vehicle crashes, although we know from the data that most crashes involve multiple vehicles — whose lives were tragically taken in auto accidents — and in many cases, due to the negligent actions of another.
Person Injury Severity
When looking at every individual involved in an auto accident in 2023 versus 2022, the number of those who sustained injuries increased, as did the number of those who were not injured.
Again, this correlates with the overall increase in crashes. Fatalities increased by 534, from 2,646 to 3,180. Because we know that there were 486 more deadly crashes year on year, we can now determine that several crashes resulted in multiple fatalities.
Possible injuries increased by 21,840 (100,878 in 2023 versus 79,038 the year prior), while suspected minor injuries increased from 54,355 to 74,723. The number of people sustaining suspected serious injuries increased by a much smaller margin, from 11,363 to 14,450.
Injury Severity By Month
Injury Severity by Day of Week
What to Do with This Information
We believe that the more you know about Texas roads and motorists’ behavior, the better equipped you are to avoid a potentially devastating accident.
While drivers and pedestrians are unpredictable — we’re all too familiar with the reality that an accident can happen unexpectedly — knowing which streets and highways are traditionally more dangerous and the common factors that cause accidents can help you stay alert and take preventive measures.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Texas, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Our personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio can assess your accident and determine whether you have a claim. From there, we will gather evidence proving the other party’s fault — such as your crash report, which is not unlike the data we’ve analyzed here — and strive to achieve the fair compensation you deserve.
To find out more about how our McAllen personal injury attorney can help you, call 855-LAW-NINJA, submit a confidential contact form, or visit us at one of our offices. You can find us at 1802 N 10th St on the corner of Redwood Avenue in McAllen, or in Suite 700 in Alamo Towers on the 901 NE 410 Loop in San Antonio.
Data Use Disclaimer
This study is based on 2023 and 2022 collision data from the Texas Department of Transportation, from January 1st to September 30th. For more details or information on how we compiled this data, please contact us. Patino Law Firm encourages outlets and publications to report on or republish this study in part but asks that you credit Patino Law Firm by linking to this page.
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers Today
When filing a personal injury claim, it’s vital to choose a law firm that you trust to fight for justice and get you the maximum possible payout. That’s why our personal injury lawyers in Texas offer a free, no-obligation case review so that you can see if we’re a good fit for you. After gathering some details on your accident and injuries and how they’ve affected you, we’ll be able to advise on how likely your claim is to succeed, how much you could expect to earn in a settlement, or by taking your case to trial and what happens next. If you choose not to work with us after your initial consultation, that’s fine too.
We work on a contingency fee basis, so you won’t pay a cent unless we win your case. This means you can focus on your recovery without worrying about facing a hefty legal bill before you even get started.
Our dedicated and experienced personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call Patino Law Firm at 855-LAW-NINJA or contact us online.