OUR SHARED RESPONSIBILITY: ENDING THE STREAK OF DAILY DEATHS ON TEXAS HIGHWAYS
By Laura Ryan
Texas Transportation Commissioner
Imagine the headlines if the population of Harlingen, Pflugerville, or North Richland Hills were wiped out by a natural disaster like a flood, hurricane, tornado, or by a terrorist attack. Or that 18 airplanes crashed in Texas, with no survivors, every year for the last 22 years. We would all be shocked and horrified at such an incomprehensible loss of life. And yet since Nov. 7, 2000—the last deathless day on Texas roadways—we have lost close to the population of those cities and those airplane crashes to traffic fatalities—more than 79,000 people.
An average of 3,700 mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, children and loved ones have been needlessly taken from their families every year. Last year, just under 4,500 loved ones died on our roads. Half of those fatalities were caused by driving at unsafe speeds or not wearing a seatbelt. If only different decisions had been made, more than half of those who died last year would be alive today. We know from crash reports that the vast majority of traffic fatalities are caused by reckless behavior, such as driving at an unsafe speed, distracted driving, not wearing a seatbelt, or driving drunk or high. That’s why it’s so important we each take responsibility to encourage those we love—including ourselves—to be better when behind the wheel.
The good news is that we can choose to be better drivers. We can take personal responsibility when we get behind the wheel. It’s easy to think of other cars on the road as just machines getting in your way, but every one of them carries one or more people with hopes and dreams and family and friends—people with real, precious lives and someone that will miss them waiting for them at home—just like you and me.
It’s simple to take action. TxDOT takes this shared responsibility seriously. While we work to engineer our roads to be forgiving of driver error, we need your help. Don’t drink and drive. Put away the cell phone. Buckle up. Drive the speed limit or lower when conditions require it. Obey traffic laws. These simple measures can save lives. Maybe even yours.
Like many of TxDOT’s other safety and educational campaigns, #EndTheStreakTX calls on personal responsibility to prevent needless tragedy. We’re asking all Texans to help us end this streak of daily deaths by posting their pledge to do so on social media along with the hashtag #EndTheStreakTX.
Everyone you know—your family, friends, coworkers—and all of your neighbors and fellow Texans are at risk every time we drive, especially if you choose to drive carelessly. 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. You have the power to help end this daily death streak on our roads. Together we can #EndTheStreakTX.