Can Texas End its Unbroken Streak of Daily Road Fatalities?

by Terry Bryant

The last day there wasn’t a fatal car crash in Texas was more than 6,200 days ago – the day that voters went to the polls to choose between presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore. Some children who were born that day may graduate from high school in a few months. Since Nov. 7, 2000, 59,388 people have died on Texas roads. That’s nearly the equivalent of the population of San Marcos.

“It’s heartbreaking to know somebody has lost a spouse, child, friend or neighbor every day for the past 17 years on Texas roadways,” Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director James Bass recently lamented. “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] 94 percent of all deadly crashes are due to driver error — things like distracted driving, speeding and drunk driving. We can stop this deadly streak if every driver makes it a priority to be safe, focused and responsible,” Bass concluded.

In an effort to bring an end to this streak, the TxDOT recently launched a social media campaign with the hash tag #EndTheStreakTX. It’s a constant reminder to drivers to take more responsibility behind the wheel. They are also asking drivers to change their social media profile pictures to an #EndTheStreakTX image, which is available for download.

At the end of 2013, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) researched the cumulative cost of fatal vehicle accidents in each and every state. The numbers for Texas were staggering — some of the highest in the U.S. More than 3,500 people were killed in Texas motor vehicle crashes that year. The immediate – primarily medical and funeral – cost of all those fatal vehicle accidents was $37 million. But the cumulative current (at the time) and future lost income for all those 3,500 vanished lives was $4.85 billion. This produced an overall negative economic impact of $4.89 billion in Texas.

To decrease the chances of roadway crashes and fatalities, TxDOT reminds drivers to:

  • Buckle their seatbelts – It is now state law that all passengers – in front AND back seats must be buckled in and children secured in their approved safety seats and boosters.
  • Never drink and drive – A parallel TxDOT campaign is saturating television with anti-drunk driving Public Service Announcements and a secondary “sober ride home/designated driver” series of PSAs.
  • Pay attention – Put smartphones away and avoid other distractions. The recent passing of the “No texting while driving” law might help break the streak — or so TxDOT officials hope, considering that distracted driving is fast becoming the leading cause of vehicle wrecks in Texas.
  • Drive the speed limit – We should always follow speed limits and drive slower when weather or conditions warrant.

So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this article — “Can Texas End its Unbroken Streak of Daily Road Fatalities? — if everyone followed the above urgings of TxDOT, it could happen tomorrow. But, in truth, we’ll probably just have to get lucky. It’s happened before, the last time on November 7, 2000. You can be sure when it happens again, TxDOT will certainly lead the celebration.

If you or members of your family have been injured by a negligent, speeding or drunk driver, contact the experienced attorneys with Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law by filling out our online contact form or give us a call: toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.