You’re standing in the kitchen when she runs in to put a soft kiss on your cheek. She’s smiling. She’s excited. It’s a holiday weekend and your daughter is going to a party.
She is a straight-A student who seems to flood the world with love. You are so proud of the woman she’s becoming.
“Don’t worry, Mama,” she says. “I won’t be late.”
In an hour, she will be dead.
In Texas, horrifying scenarios like this become someone’s reality every single day. Nov. 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. Every day for the past 19 years someone has died in a traffic crash.
In each of those 19 years, the lives of more than 3,500 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children have perished. That’s almost 67,000 people who have died in crashes in Texas; 3,647 people just last year, and each of them left behind a trail of broken hearts. TxDOT has launched the annual #EndTheStreakTX campaign, asking all Texans to join the effort to end this deadly 19-year streak.
An average of 10 people die every day, and because of them, I am challenging you to tell 10 people right now about our effort to #EndTheStreakTX. Text them or share it on social media and tag at least 10 people. Challenge them to share the message with 10 of their friends. We are calling this the Texas Tag 10 Challenge, and we need your help to create a wave of commitment and a surge of support for ending this fatal trend.
It is painfully frustrating to know that curing this deadly epidemic doesn’t require a labyrinthine system of algorithms or some miraculous scientific breakthrough. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of all traffic crashes are preventable – they are caused by our mistakes, like speeding, texting and driving or drinking and driving.
Each of us holds the power and the responsibility to keep ourselves, our families and our fellow drivers safe. The leading causes of traffic deaths in 2018 were speeding, distracted driving, failure to stay in a single lane and impairment due to alcohol and drugs – all preventable factors.
In May 2019, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to adopt two substantial goals regarding transportation system safety. The first one is to reduce the number of deaths on Texas roadways by half by 2035. The second is to have zero traffic deaths by 2050.
This “Road to Zero” is a big goal that will require the support of local governments, law enforcement and every driver on Texas roadways. And one of our first steps is to simply end the streak of daily deaths on our roadways by choosing better.
TxDOT will dedicate an additional $600 million in more safety improvements along Texas roadways over the next two years. At TxDOT, we spend an ample amount of time, money and energy to keep our fellow Texans safe. We will continue to engineer our roads to be more forgiving of drivers’ errors.
You can make a difference, too. Be responsible. Be an example to your kids. Be the driver you would want next to you, in front of you or behind you on the roadway. We must all work together to #EndTheStreakTX.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows Texas Transportation Commission Member Laura Ryan of Houston speaking to TxDOT Laredo District employees.