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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

SMPD reports record number of fatal car accidents in 2023

SMPD+reports+record+number+of+fatal+car+accidents+in+2023
Delaney Compean

San Marcos Police announced on Sept. 17 there has been a rise in the number of traffic accidents, with 16 traffic accident fatalities occurring since January 2023.

According to TxDOT, in 2022, there were 17 traffic deaths the entire year, with San Marcos almost matching that statistic by September, it is expected that the city will overtake that number by the end of the year.

The rise in accident fatalities comes at the same time as record growth to the city of San Marcos, as well as lengthy road construction along some of the busiest stretches of road in town.

According to Sergeant Garner Ames of the San Marcos Police Department (SMPD), a number of reasons have fed into the problem.

“It comes down to a lot of factors. Road construction in areas around town and the increase in traffic not just in San Marcos, but the area. You throw [it] all together: distraction, construction, technology, congestion and the lack of police presence during [COVID-19],” Ames said.

According to a Facebook post by the SMPD, the highest number of accidents have occurred at the intersection of I-35 and State Highway 123, where there is major road construction and lane changes.

“Some of [the car accidents] can be attributed to I-35,” Standridge said. “If you’re coming [on to Highway 123] or [Highway 80] there’s a ton of construction as soon as you come along I-35.”

My35construction.org states that construction along I-35 is scheduled to run through at least 2025.

“The road construction has been occurring for quite some time, but the lane shifts and construction over [Highway 123] has been occurring mostly this year,” Ames said. “I can’t speak on behalf of TxDOT, but I know the city engineer has been working with TxDOT to work on the designs of construction zones, the length of closures of ramps.”

Some San Marcos locals feel the increase in number of accidents can be blamed on new drivers in the area, especially Texas State students.

“I’ve personally noticed a lot of [accidents] being due to Texas State students,” San Marcos local, Fernando Garcia, said.

While there could be some truth to university students being responsible for accidents, Ames was hesitant to assign the blame solely to that group.

“There definitely have been some crashes involving college students, but when you are talking specifically about fatality accidents, I would not contribute them specifically to that demographic,” Ames said.

Another frequent complaint from San Marcos locals is that accidents are caused by a lack of traffic policing.

“Where are the cops at? [I] hardly ever see traffic enforcement being done [and] seldom see patrols going through neighborhoods,” San Marcos local, Clifton Simon, said.

Ames said while the traffic policing situation is less than ideal, it is not due to neglect or lack of effort from the local police.

“When these things happen [manpower] is always an issue,” Ames said. “The regular patrol officers are not tasked with [traffic enforcement]. They are responsible for responding to crimes. We only have a couple people dedicated to traffic safety.”

While traffic fatalities are up in San Marcos, they have also risen in Texas as a whole in recent years.

According to TxDOT there were 4,481 traffic fatalities in Texas in 2022, which put Texas as the state with the highest number of traffic fatalities in the country.

A press release from TxDOT said the number of fatalities in road construction zones was down 16% in 2022 when compared to the previous year. Even with that decrease, there were still 205 deaths and 788 injuries in construction zones last year.

“Although it’s encouraging to see a reduction in the number of work zone crashes and fatalities last year, one life lost is too many,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams said in the release. “We’re calling on all Texas drivers to slow down and stay alert when traveling through work zones. Doing so could save a life, including your own.”

The SMPD recommends that drivers follow the speed limit, only use the left lane for passing, move over for emergency vehicles and share the road to try to avoid crashes on San Marcos roads.

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