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Speed-related crashes, fatalities on the rise

Speeding causes a third of traffic fatalities. As we start a new year, the problem is not slowing down.

SAN ANTONIO — A dangerous behavior is driving up crash statistics and deaths. Speeding is on the rise in Texas.

Last week, street racing resulted in a highway rollover crash that critically injured a woman and her 10-year-old child.

In a separate incident, a 21-year-old man was arrested for driving double the speed limit. Police say he hit another vehicle head-on, sending a 73-year-old man to the hospital with broken bones and internal bleeding.

“It is not a victimless crime,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), there has been a steady increase in crashes where “unsafe speed” was a contributing factor.

Data shows there were:

  • 23,436 collisions resulting in 385 fatalities in 2019
  • 25,052 collisions resulting in 471 fatalities in 2020
  • 27,239 collisions resulting in 488 fatalities in 2021

“It is unfortunate to see this rise in avoidable, tragic injuries and deaths,” said Joshua Zuber, a spokesperson for AAA Texas.

Lili Trujillo Puckett knows the pain first-hand. Her 16-year-old daughter was killed in a street racing crash nine years ago. It happened in California, but Trujillo Puckett now travels across the country to spread awareness.

“As life moves on, you don’t move on,” said Trujillo Puckett. “You keep seeing the absence and what would be happening now, what she would look like now.”

Trujillo Puckett started the nonprofit ‘Street Racing Kills’ to warn people that reckless driving impacts everyone.

“Try to get legislators to create more bills to curb it,” suggested Trujillo Puckett. “To the community; let's do something. Let’s mentor drivers and not just tell street racers, ‘No,’ but show them where they can go and do this the right way at a raceway.”

Zuber believes street racing particularly entices young drivers. 

“If you see performance enhancement auto parts, parents or guardians may want to start asking questions,” he said. “You know, ‘Where are you going? What are these parts for?’”

San Antonio city leaders are working to curb the problem. 

Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran released the following statement:

“Public Safety has always been a top priority for me and for my district whether it is tackling Domestic Violence, or illegal street racing. My office has been working diligently with Chief McManus. Though the street racing task force, we are able to track racing takeovers and monitor possible illegal street racing activities on social media. In my district, we have a lot of rural areas in which we need to work closely with both our Sheriff’s Dept. and Texas Highway Patrol to address this type of illegal activity. Here in the city, we are addressing our man power issues in order have the right department size for the geographical size of our city. We also have State laws that went into effect in 2021 addressing this issue but need the judicial system to hold these racers accountable for their actions.” 

Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda released this statement:

“The recent incidents of highway injuries are tragic and frustrating at the same time.

The news is tragic because speeding and impromptu racing are preventable; frustrating because the impromptu nature of the racing is difficult to prevent.

The Public Safety Committee, which I chair, recently discussed organized street racing, and focused on dissuading people from gathering to watch the races. Impromptu racing, which starts in the spur of the moment and with no crowd gathered, can only be prevented through public awareness and by the drivers themselves.”

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