Thursday marked a grim anniversary for the state of Texas. The last day without a death on a Texas highway was Nov 7, 2000.
Statistics compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation reveal that over last 19 years, nearly 67,000 people have died in crashes on the state’s freeways, resulting in an average of ten deaths each day. In 2018, Grayson County saw 11 fatal crashes and 13 deaths, most of which occurred on U.S. and state highways.
“This is a milestone we should not be marking,” the TxDot said in a news release. “It’s also a sad reminder that each of us has a serious responsibility to drive safely.”
The leading causes of fatality crashes include speed, alcohol, and the failure to stay in a single lane.
Perhaps the saddest statistic though comes the National Highway Traffic Association, which reports that 94 percent of all traffic crashes are preventable.
In an effort to stop the state’s tragic trend, TxDOT has pledged to spend an extra $600 million on road safety improvements over the next two years. The agency will focus on installing rumble strips to alert drifting drivers, reinforce road shoulders, add dedicated turn lanes, and roll out new safety technologies.
But Texas motorists are also urged to take action and responsibility. As part of TxDOT’s End the Streak campaign, drivers are encouraged to always wear their seat belts, reduce their speed, avoid cell phones and to never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. TxDOT is also asking people to share personal stories of loved ones killed in car crashes on their social media pages with photo and video testimonials.
“It’s heartbreaking to know that every day for the past 19 years someone has lost a spouse, child, friend or neighbor on our state’s roadways,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said. “Ending this daily death streak is a shared responsibility. Let’s make it a priority to be safe, focused and responsible behind the wheel. Let’s end the streak.”
The Texas Transportation Commission has approved a goal of cutting the number of annual traffic fatalities in half by 2035 and eliminating all traffic deaths by 2050.
Drew Smith is the crime and emergency reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.