In 2019, ValuePenguin studied the data from nearly 3,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred during Thanksgiving and Christmas from 2015–2018 to determine America’s deadliest roadways during the holidays. The results proved what we here in south Texas suspected all along: San Antonio’s I-35 is one of the top five highways in America for deadly car accidents, especially during the holidays.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, we wrote this blog to examine why San Antonio’s I-35 — as well as I-20, which also made the list of America’s deadliest highways and accounts for the fifth-most holiday traffic fatalities of any U.S. interstate — is so dangerous and explain what you need to do to stay safe.
Why Is San Antonio’s I-35 So Dangerous?
There are several reasons that San Antonio’s I-35 sees such high rates of deadly wrecks. For starters, tens of millions of drivers crowd the freeway every year. I-35 serves the northeast corridor of San Antonio and provides access to Fort Sam Houston and Randolph Air Force Base as well as several of our city’s most prominent and popular attractions. These attractions include the AT&T Center, Splashtown Water Park, and both the Forum and Live Oak Town Center shopping areas.
As the southern continuation of the San Antonio-Austin Corridor and one leg of the NAFTA Superhighway, I-35 serves as a major traffic hub connecting south Texas with the rest of the United States. The highway also connects downtown San Antonio with Kirby, Windcrest, Live Oak, and Universal City, among other populous suburbs. And with eight lanes of heavy traffic at several points along this stretch of I-35, navigating this dense freeway can challenge even the most attentive and responsible drivers.
Adding to the problem are the thousands of drunk and drugged driving instances that continue to plague all Texas roadways, especially I-35. In 2017, nearly 1,200 Texans died in drunk driving crashes. And in San Antonio, there are more than 2,300 drunk driving crashes every year, resulting in an average of 75 deaths and more than 100 life-altering injuries.
San Antonio’s DUI fatality rate is 56% higher than those of other large Texas cities and nearly 80% higher than the state average, which is likely due in part to the amount of traffic listed above. Put simply, drinking and driving don’t mix, especially on busy freeways.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, the ever-present construction on I-35 makes this stretch of freeway especially dangerous. Within the last 10 years, numerous construction projects have made I-35 extremely difficult to traverse, including:
- 2010: The rebuilding of the Walters St. overpass
- 2014: Additional lanes added from Loop 1604 to FM 3009, along with the addition of an extra southbound lane from Loop 1604 to Judson
- Widened the section from Loop 410 North to the Loop 410 South Cutoff from six to eight lanes.
- Reconfigured the Loop 410 interchange
- Built the New Braunfels Ave. overpass
Taken together, these factors make San Antonio’s stretch of I-35 extremely dangerous and difficult to navigate.
I-20 Is Another Especially Dangerous Texas Freeway
I-20, which travels from Odessa to Augusta, South Carolina, is another Texas roadway that sees an extraordinary rate of wrecks and fatalities. In fact, it’s the fifth-deadliest highway in America during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Much like with I-35, I-20’s high rate of deadly crashes is largely due to construction, intoxicated and distracted driving, and heavy traffic.
So wherever you’re at in Texas, you should be aware of the potential threat and drive accordingly. By following the guidelines below, local drivers can reduce their risk for a collision.
Staying Safe on Texas Freeways
Although San Antonio’s freeways can be treacherous, especially I-35 and I-20, you can follow these precautions to help ensure your safety as well as that of your family and other drivers on the road.
Always Wear Your Seatbelt
In Texas, all drivers and passengers ages eight and older are required to wear seatbelts. In addition, passengers who are 4’ 9” or taller and under the age of 8 must wear seatbelts. Lastly, all children under the age of 8 and less than 4’ 9” must stay safely secured in a child safety seat.
Follow Posted Speed Limits and Other Guidelines
On I-35, speed limits vary from 60–70 MPH at different intervals. Regardless of the speed limit, you should always remain at or below the posted speed guidelines and follow all other posted regulations. These rules are in place for your protection, so be sure to follow them.
Maintain Separation Between Other Vehicles
When traveling on a busy freeway at high speeds, anything could happen. Another vehicle might blow a tire, a distracted driver might drift into another lane, or the car in front of you might have to brake suddenly. To reduce your risk for a wreck, maintain plenty of distance between your vehicles and those around you, especially in heavy holiday traffic or challenging weather conditions. Follow these rules of thumb to ensure safe distances on the road:
- The 3-second rule: Regardless of how fast you’re traveling, you should leave three seconds’ travel time of separation between the vehicle in front of you during normal traffic, road, and weather conditions.
- The 4-second rule: Large commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, have large blind spots that can significantly obscure their vision. So, always be sure to give an extra second of distance when following these vehicles.
- The 6-Second rule: When driving in inclement weather or difficult road conditions, you should double the space between the vehicle in front of you to six seconds’ worth of travel time.
“In 2017, nearly 1,200 Texans died in drunk driving crashes. And in San Antonio, there are more than 2,300 drunk driving crashes every year, resulting in an average of 75 deaths and more than 100 life-altering injuries.”
Use Proper Signaling Techniques When Changing Lanes
When changing lanes at a high rate of speed, you should take extra precautions to avoid other vehicles. Before you begin your lane change, activate your turn signal with at least four seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front of yours. Be sure to check your rear- and side-view mirrors before carefully viewing your blind spot over your shoulder. If everything is clear, slowly but deliberately change lanes, and make sure to turn off your turn signal afterward to avoid confusing other drivers.
Motorcyclists Should Always Wear a Helmet
In Texas, all riders under 21 must wear a helmet. Riders 21 and over can ride without a helmet if they have completed the required safety course or are covered by their insurance. Regardless, we advise all motorcyclists and passengers to wear a helmet at all times. Research has shown time and again that helmets save lives, so please do everything you can to stay safe out there.
Contact Crosley Law for Help With Your Car Wreck Injury Claim
At Crosley Law, we have years of experience helping car crash victims get the justice and compensation they deserve for their injuries and suffering. Our skilled attorneys are dedicating to helping all of our clients recover physically, emotionally, and financially from their injuries, and we’re always ready to tackle even the most challenging car crash cases.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a negligent motorist on I-35, I-20, or any Texas roadway, please contact Crosley Law today to receive your free case evaluation. Call 210-LAW-3000 │ 210-529-3000 or complete this brief form to schedule your appointment today.
Peterson, B. (2019, November 20). Most dangerous roads for holiday season travel. Value Penguin. Retrieved from https://www.valuepenguin.com/most-dangerous-roads-holiday-season-travel
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.