3720 people were killed on Texas highways in 2017, the highest number this century and continuing a disturbing increase in traffic fatalities in the past several years, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Mark Hanna of the Insurance Council of Texas, which represents the insurance companies, says there were nearly one thousand more people killed on Texas roads last year than were killed in 2010.

He says one reason is clearly that as the state grows, more people are driving."We've got more people on the roadways, more people than have ever been on Texas highways before, we have a booming economy, we have lower gasoline prices," Hanna said.

That has led to record numbers of drivers on highways, many of which were built to handle far fewer motorists.

But Hanna says its no surprise that the increase in highway fatalities coincides with the introduction of both smart phones and more in-car technology.

"Alcohol, speeding, and distracted driving are all playing a part in much higher auto fatalities last year," he said.

Hanna says the number of drivers deemed 'distracted' is reaching epidemic proportions.The increase in highway fatalities in the last few years has reversed a trend which began in the 1980s of far fewer highway fatalities.

Safer cars, more awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, safer highways, and more attention paid to driver's education had succeeded in significantly reducing the incidence of traffic fatalities between 1985 and 2010, and many experts felt that highways were going to continue to get safer.

For example, despite the massive increased in the U.S. population, and a massive increase in total miles traveled, there were fewer highway fatalities on roads across the country (32,900) than there were in 1972 (54,500).

SOURCE; INSURANCE COUNCIL OF TEXAS