In Texas, the overall number of car crashes declined drastically as fewer drivers logged fewer miles on the roadways from March 12, when restricted travel due to the coronavirus pandemic began in many cities, to May 31.

Compared to the same 80-day period last year, the number of reported crashes fell by 40%, according to a Houston Chronicle review of crash data from Texas Department of Transportation. However, this figure may change as many police departments in Texas file crash reports weeks or months after the incident.

Throughout the entire state, the decline was not as extreme when it came to accidents caused by risky behaviors, including speeding and driving while intoxicated. For the 80-day period, 646 of the accidents killed at least one person, just an 11% drop in fatal crashes compared to 2019.

In 2020, 115 more speed-related fatal car crashes occurred, than during the same period in 2019, despite the huge decline in driving. In the Houston area, the difference is more pronounced. Despite a 19% drop in fatal crashes to 115 for the March 12-May 31 period, the number of those that were said to be related to speed increased 13% from the same period in 2019.

The trends in Houston and throughout Texas share similar increases in speed and serious crashes in many metro areas throughout the United States, according to safety experts said.

“Even without traffic, our roads were no safer,” Lorraine M. Martin, president of the National Safety Council, said in a statement. “It is heartbreaking to see the carnage on our roadways continue, especially when our medical professionals should be able to focus intently on treating a pandemic.”

During the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown, authorities hoped a hiatus on commutes could decrease the number of fatal accidents. State safety experts answered questions from reporters and others about whether Texas could break its 19-year streak of at least one roadway fatality every day. Unfortunately, the streak continues.

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