Texas is one of the nation’s most dangerous states for drivers and one of its least dangerous places for pedestrians.
The state ranked fifth on the U.S. News rankings in 2012, and the most recent data available showed a traffic fatality rate of 19.6 per 100,000 residents.
In addition to high fatalities, Texas ranked sixth on the national index for traffic crashes, with more than 200,000 people killed on Texas roads in 2012.
The latest data from the Texas Department of Transportation, however, show a more modest decline from 2012 to 2013, with traffic fatalities in the state dropping 6.4 percent.
Texas ranked among the top five states for accidents involving bicyclists in 2012 and was one of just two states to see a decline in collisions with cyclists.
Texas drivers are still at risk for serious injury and death from crashes with cyclists, but the trend has reversed in recent years, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.
That trend is also evident in many other states, such as Florida, which ranks eighth for bicyclists killed.
Texas ranks 10th on the latest data, with 3,959 cyclists killed on the road in 2012; the state had 5,051 in 2013.
There were 4,834 deaths among pedestrians in Texas in 2012 but that number dropped to 2,732 in 2013, according the institute.
More than 50 percent of those fatalities were cyclists.
The Texas Transportation institute is part of the Texas Association of Governments’ Bicycle Safety Advisory Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the state’s safety protocols and infrastructure.
The institute has been monitoring the trend in Texas for about five years, said Chris Jones, director of transportation policy and research at the institute and the co-author of the report.
Jones has been watching Texas closely and said the state is showing a shift from a state where a significant portion of traffic fatalities involved bicycles.
“It’s very encouraging to see the number of bicyclists coming down and the number going up in Texas,” Jones said.
The recent trend is due to a number of factors, including changes in road designs and new technologies like pedestrian-activated technology, Jones said, including technology that gives pedestrians a way to detect vehicles.
“Bicycles are not the only vehicle that’s causing crashes, but they’re certainly one of them,” he said.
For example, the Texas Legislature passed a law in 2010 that made it illegal to hit a cyclist on the side of the road, but Jones said it was a mistake and the law has since been amended.
Texas is not alone.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which includes the Texas state agency, reports that Texas ranked fifth for collisions involving bicyclist with an average of nearly 11 per 100 million residents in 2013 and is tied for first for fatalities involving pedestrians with an estimated 14.4 per 100 people.
“That’s the kind of thing that can make a big difference,” Jones added.
Jones said he hopes that the study will provide a tool to educate policymakers about the importance of safety in the face of these tragedies.
“I hope that policymakers will pay more attention to the data and that they will think more about the safety implications of things like pedestrian activation technology,” he added.
“They can’t just stop at just one type of technology.”