The Grim Truth Behind Texas Traffic Deaths and Update on #EndTheStreak
Texas hasn’t seen a day without a traffic death in more than 15 years. In fact, on average, someone is killed every two and a half hours and injured every two minutes on Texas’ roads. As a statewide initiative to reduce these chilling figures, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began the #EndTheStreak campaign, which incorporates social media and various PSA announcements to help spread awareness of the state’s 15-year streak of daily traffic deaths. On November 7, 2000, TxDOT began tracking total traffic fatalities and fatal crashes in a digital calendar format to raise awareness of the state’s traffic fatality rates. Each month, TxDOT releases a new calendar with day-by-day totals of the number of fatal accidents and the total number of fatalities. So far, these totals have revealed higher numbers on the weekends and holidays. Despite multiple efforts by TxDOT to increase safe driving education and awareness, however, Texas has not seen a death-free day marked on the calendar since the tracking program began in 2000.
Texas is home to more than 675,000 miles of roads, which is 200,000 more miles than any other state in the nation. The state also has over 25 million residents that flood its roadways, and those residents total more miles on average and they do so at higher speeds than in any other state. While these high numbers raise the probability of vehicle collisions in general, officials in Texas attribute the majority of the state’s car crash fatalities to drivers operating vehicles while intoxicated and failing to use seat belts.
Road Safety Tips
The TxDOT #EndTheStreak campaign highlights four basic traffic safety tips:
- Buckle your seatbelt. Using vehicle restraints properly can save the lives of drivers and passengers in the case of a serious collision. Despite Texas law requiring all vehicle occupants to buckle up, the state’s 2014 traffic crash statistics showed that 43% of unconstrained occupants were fatally injured.
- Never drink and drive. Call a friend, use public transportation, hire a car service, or wait to drive home if you are under the influence of alcohol. Of the 1,226 fatally injured Texan drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was tested in 2015, 38% surpassed the legal drinking limit of .08% BAC.
- Pay attention. Avoid distracting activities such as consuming food, navigating while driving, and using your cell phone. Texas state law prohibits teens from using a cell phone while driving but not adults; however, some municipalities have banned cell phone use altogether. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes 1.6 million accidents per year in the United States.
- Drive the speed limit. Follow signs and be aware of traffic shifts, speed changes, and how weather affects driving conditions. In 2015, 745 Texas deaths occurred due to vehicle crashes involving speeding.These traffic tips, coupled with heightened awareness about the prevalence of traffic deaths, may be the key to ending Texas’ streak of fatal accidents. To participate in TxDOT’s safe driving initiatives, share a personal story online and use the #EndTheStreakTX hashtag, change your social media profile photo(s) to the campaign logo, or simply pass on the information you’ve learned here.
#EndTheStreakTX. (2015). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/media-center/psas/end-streak.html
General statistics. (2014). Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-overview/2014.
Texting and distracted driving infographic. (2015). Don’t Text and Drive. Retrieved from http://www.textinganddrivingsafety.com/texting-and-driving-stats.
Texas motor vehicle crash statistics. (2015). Texas Department of Transportation. Retrieved from http://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/forms-publications/drivers-vehicles/publications/annual-summary.html.
Texas DOT isn’t learning from its horrific road fatalities calendar. (2016, January). StreetsBlog USA. Retrieved from http://usa.streetsblog.org/2016/01/08/texas-dot-isnt-learning-from-its-horrific-road-fatalities-calendar.