It has been 20 years since Texas could claim a day where there were no fatalities on our roads. This Nov. 7, Texas marked 20 years of daily deaths on our roadways with more than 70,000 people killed since 2000. According to the Texas Department of Transportation every day in Texas nearly 10 people are killed in traffic crashes with the leading causes of these deadly crashes continuing to be failure to stay in one lane, alcohol, speed and distracted driving.
TxDOT is promoting the “End the Streak” campaign to help end motor vehicle fatalities in Texas. The road to ending the streak is not impossible. In Texas there were 23 counties with zero fatalities in 2019.
The pandemic has taught us all about the importance of shared responsibility. Ending this streak of needless tragedy on Texas roadways is also a shared responsibility. While it is considered socially unacceptable to drink and drive and most people would think twice about drinking and driving or riding with a drunk driver, riding with a driver who is speeding, not buckled up, using their phone while driving or driving in any reckless manner has not reached the threshold of being socially unacceptable yet. Drivers and passengers can change that by taking responsibility for each other’s safe driving.
What if for one day everyone took responsibility for themselves and their friends and there were no drunk drivers on our roads? And there was not one person driving somewhere to drink without a plan for a sober ride home — and no underage drunk drivers were to be found anywhere.
What if everyone made sure that the driver and all passengers in the vehicle were buckled up? And, that all children were riding in the correct car seat for their age, weight and height and the seat was installed correctly.
What if everyone took responsibility to make sure that no driver was speeding down the road, but was instead driving within the speed limit, including slowing down for construction and emergency vehicles, and driving more slowly and cautiously during bad weather conditions?
What if everyone made sure that they did not drive distracted or ride with anyone who was driving distracted? And, that no teens were riding with other teens, which is the main source of their distractions and against the law according to the Graduated Driver License Law. What if no youth or adult was driving while using a cell phone and totally concentrating on their driving?
What if everyone took the responsibility to make sure that they were not driving drowsy and passengers made sure that their driver was rested and alert? What if there were no drowsy drivers on the road and every driver, including commercial drivers, made sure they were well rested and prepared for the trip?
What if everyone took responsibility to drive defensively and civilly and passengers made sure they would only ride with a driver who treated the lives of others on the road with respect?
What if everyone took on these responsibilities and Texas could once again enjoy a day where there was not one fatality on our roads? Then, we could put an end to this terrible streak of roadway deaths in Texas — and it would bear repeating!
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Community Health Educator Lorie Stovall, Navarro County reminds us that these do not have to be just rhetorical questions. For information on the End the Streak campaign visit www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/media-center/psas/end-streak.html