Each year, 3,500 Texans – the equivalent of 10 jumbo jets crashing and leaving no survivors – die on Texas highways and streets.
This staggering number of senseless deaths is heartbreaking and shocking. It’s only fair I warn you; today, this story does not end well.
Texas highway fatality statistics have improved over the last decade, but the sad fact is we’ve suffered a traffic crash fatality each and every day for the past 15 years. That’s more than 50,000 Texas lives lost on roadways around our home state since Nov. 7, 2000. A stunning headline, indeed!
Sadly, these fatalities are spouses, children, parents and friends whose tomorrow will never come. It’s tragic. It’s heart-wrenching. It’s something we must fight to end.
In the rush of our busy lives, we often fail to give driving a second thought. Driving is NOT something we should ever do on autopilot while juggling phone calls, food or grooming.
Driving also is NOT something we do without regard for posted speed limits, red lights and our fellow drivers (no matter how late we’re running).
Instead, driving requires our absolute, undivided, eyes-on-the-road attention. Period. No texting, no fiddling with the stereo and no settling disputes between children in the back seat regardless of how badly they’re whining. One split second is all it takes to shatter a life forever.
Last year, 484 roadway deaths were attributed to distracted driving. Another 1,007 fatalities were reported as unrestrained occupants. Those numbers are even more difficult to swallow when you consider they are largely, if not entirely, preventable.
Regrettably – and, quite frankly, embarrassingly – the leading cause of Texas traffic fatalities continues to be alcohol. Last year, 1,078 DUI alcohol-related fatalities were reported. Over the past 15 years, that number is more than 14,500. Knowing these fatalities were entirely preventable makes this news even worse.
Further stressing our roadways (and patience) is the growth-induced gridlock that comes with Texas being such an appealing place to live and work. Our booming population is adding vehicles to our roadways at an unprecedented pace. Commutes that once took 20 minutes can now take twice as long or longer in some of our more crowded cities.
While voters recently approved additional funding to enhance infrastructure and address the influx of people and vehicles, the short-term is going to require each driver to be patient, allow extra time and remain alert and diligent while behind the wheel. As with drunk driving, nobody wants to know a loved one was senselessly killed in crash caused by road rage and impatience.
There is some good news. We are not helpless. Safety begins with you and me, and our ability. We have the power to rewrite the story of safer highways.
Today, I ask that we all do our part to end this streak of daily deaths on Texas roads. Safety is simple, but profound. Let us put away our cell phone, obey traffic laws, allow extra time and, for the sake of ourselves, all other drivers and innocent children with whom we share the road, never, never, never drink and drive.
Remember, we hold the key to driving safely and reducing crashes and fatalities. With the help of each and every Texas driver, we can join the fight to end this streak of daily deaths on Texas highways and streets!
What if we all did our part and had a fatality-free day on Texas highways? What if we committed to break this 15-year cycle and show how our fight for safer highways can make a real difference?
Let your voice be heard: #EndTheStreakTX. We can do this!