A 28-year-old woman was driving a 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe, an SUV, eastbound on President George Bush Turnpike near US 75 on Saturday, January 16, 2016; and there were three passengers in the car, ages 12, 13, and 19. According to Sgt. Lonny Haschel with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the SUV was in the far right lane when traffic suddenly slowed. The driver, in trying to avoid a crash, swerved to the left, crossed all of the eastbound lanes, and lost control. The SUV rolled several times, struck another vehicle, and then fell 60 feet, instantly killing one teen. The two other passengers were transported to nearby hospitals and died soon after. Miraculously, the driver survived with no significant injuries. The SUV crashed onto the Richardson side of the turnpike; Plano is on the opposite side. The fatal crash is under investigation, and the cause is currently unknown.
In many situations on Texas roadways, when a vehicle encounters slow traffic and ends up losing control, it is because the driver was traveling too fast for conditions, and the driving may or may not be considered reckless. As regards punishing reckless drivers, Texas is the most lenient of all 50 states, according to a recent study. The following are things that, unlike many other states, Texas does not do:
- Texas does not define reckless driving by specific miles per hour. As an example, in Louisiana, if a motorist travels 15 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, he or she is, by definition, a reckless driver and could be given a citation.
- Texas does not have a state law which makes racing on roads illegal, though many cities include this law in their ordinances.
- Texas does not deploy speed cameras for instant enforcement.
- Texas does not require license suspension or jail time for first-time offenders found guilty of reckless driving.
- Texas imposes minimal fines for reckless driving offenses, as compared with other states.