Recent population growth leads to more car accidents

By Shane McClelland, Special to the Katy Times
Posted 3/29/23

Katy has experienced significant population growth over the last several years. According to the Katy Economic Development Council, Katy grew from 242,500 to 337,800 households from 2010-12—nearly a 40% increase.

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Recent population growth leads to more car accidents


Katy has experienced significant population growth over the last several years. According to the Katy Economic Development Council, Katy grew from 242,500 to 337,800 households from 2010-12—nearly a 40% increase. All signs point to continued exponential inflation as more large companies move into the area and others seek the improved quality of life, excellent schools, and job opportunities in Katy. According to the US Census Bureaus and the Texas Demographic Center, the Greater Katy area is one of Texas’ 10 largest cities.

Katy’s astounding population enlargement is expected to continue to expand annually with no signs of decrease. This means the Greater Katy area’s infrastructure must improve to keep up with the rise in population. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has committed to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects on I-10, the Grand Parkway, and US 90 over the next five to ten years.

Though an increased population has its economic and social benefits, it also creates some disadvantages for residents. For example, when cities experience a population surge, the number of vehicles on the roads escalate, causing a rise in car-related injuries and fatalities.

How population growth creates more car wrecks

Population increase has a direct correlation with the increase of car wrecks. As the population increases, there are more drivers on the roads and highways, which can lead to an increase in car wrecks. This is especially true in densely populated areas where traffic congestion is high and drivers must compete for space on the roadways. Additionally, when populations become larger and more spread out geographically, it often leads to increased distances between destinations, resulting in longer commutes.

Katy had a total of 1,028 crashes in 2021. Data collected by TxDOT shows that there were 1,192 auto wrecks in 2022; an alarming 16% increase compared to the prior year. So, what causes the increase in car crashes?

Increased traffic

Though TxDOT has committed to expand roads to accommodate more drivers, as cities experience rapid expansion over short periods of time it is inevitable that infrastructure struggles to keep up with demand. This causes roads that were designed for lower levels of traffic to become congested during peak hours. One such road to experience constant congestion is the Katy Freeway. Despite the $2.8 billion expansion of I-10 back in 2011, drivers frequently experience immense traffic congestion. Whenever there is an influx of commuters on the road, the following risks are more likely to occur:

  • Distracted driving: When traffic is moving slow, many drivers are tempted to check their emails, surf social media and text.
  • Aggressive driving: Some drivers get impatient in traffic and allow their frustration to evolve into aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, speeding, cutting others off and road rage.
  • Fatigued driving: Most increased traffic occurs during rush hour; a time when many people are driving home tired after a long day’s work. Drowsy driving can cause drivers to become less aware of their surroundings and the traffic laws and can even fall asleep at the wheel.

According to TxDOT, Katy experienced 693 accidents in 2021 and 786 accidents in 2022. In order to reduce the number of car-related incidents, it is essential for drivers to remain alert, patient, and focused during heavy traffic.

Lack of familiarity with the area

When people move to a new city, it can take time to learn the new routes, side-roads, and freeway access and exit points. As new residents work on becoming familiar with their new surroundings, they are more likely to rely on GPS navigation tools. These tools require the driver to periodically take their eyes off the road to decipher where they are going, or make last minute maneuvers if they miss a turn, which can lead to a collision.

There is no slowdown in Katy’s development. Over the next decade, the influx of new citizens will continue to grow exponentially. That means a mounting number of cars on the roads, and additional construction to keep up with the rising demand. It is critical that residents do their part to maintain safe driving habits to help keep our community safe. We can serve our fellow residents by staying alert while driving, put your cell phone down (the internet will still be there when you reach your destination) and pay attention to other cars, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians on the road. We can all do our part to help keep Katy a safe place and inviting place to live.

Shane McClelland is the founding partner of The Law Office of Shane McClelland, a personal injury law firm based in Katy. His website is