TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Texas Department of Transportation for the Tyler region reported an increase in fatal crashes in 2021, with distracted driving rising by 50%.

In 2021, factors such as “failing to drive in a single lane” and “unsafe speed” contributed to 176 fatal crashes and 193 total deaths in the Tyler area, an increase from 152 fatal crashes and 168 deaths in 2020.

TxDOT’s Tyler District, which includes: Anderson, Cherokee, Gregg, Henderson, Rusk, Smith, Van Zandt and Wood counties, released preliminary numbers revealing the top-five contributing factors of fatal crashes in 2021:

  1. Failing to drive in a single lane contributed to 34% of the fatal crashes
  2. Unsafe speeds resulted in 22% of the fatal crashes
  3. Pedestrian failed to yield the right of way to a vehicle contributed to 18% of the crashes
  4. Wrong side of the vehicle, not passing, contributed to 13% of fatal crashes
  5. Failing to control speed contributed 12% to the total fatal crashes

“Fatalities have increased substantially in 2021 throughout the eight counties of the Tyler District. We thoroughly evaluate each factor involved with every fatal crash occurring on our system. Single vehicle, run-off-road crashes, failing to control speed and failure to use restraints have consistently been primary factors contributing to these fatalities. It is imperative that we take notice and work together to reduce fatal crashes.”

Vernon Webb, District Engineer

The Texas Department of Transportation Tyler District released the motor vehicle traffic crash overview:

  • Rural traffic crashes accounted for 82% of the district’s traffic fatalities. 160 people died in rural traffic crashes.
  • Single-vehicle, run-off-the-road crashes resulted in 65 deaths in 2021. These crashes accounted for 33% of all motor vehicle traffic deaths in the Tyler District.
  • About 31 percent of deaths involved unrestrained vehicle passengers. This figure represents crashes where restraint usage was applicable and usage was known.
  • 42 people died in head-on crashes.
  • 41 people died in crashes occurring in intersections or related to an intersection. This is about 21% of all traffic fatalities in the Tyler District.
  • 35 fatalities were speed related.
  • Pedestrian fatalities totaled 30. This is a 30% increase from 2020.
  • 21 motorcyclists (operators and passengers) died in crashes.
  • 15 people died in crashes involving distracted driving. This is a 50% increase from the previous year.
  • There were 33 DUI-related fatalities in 2021. This figure is 14 fewer than in 2020.
  • There were two pedal-cyclist fatalities and two work-zone fatalities in 2021.

*Total fatalities listed in above categories add up to more than the annual total of 193 deaths due to some fatal crashes having multiple contributing factors.

While some numbers dropped and/or stayed the same, some of the factors, including unrestrained occupants, pedestrian fatalities and distracted driver fatalities rose sharply, according to TxDOT.

“One life lost is too many. With the population continuing to rapidly increase throughout our region, public awareness and personal accountability are critical,” Webb said. “We are losing co-workers, friends, and family at an alarming rate. Since November 7, 2000, we have not had a single day without a fatality on Texas roads. It is time to End the Streak.”