‘A real crisis in our state’: Texas has averaged 11 traffic deaths every day in 2021

Traffic
A pedestrian was hit and killed on Ben White Boulevard on Tuesday in southeast Austin. Traffic was delayed while crews responded to the scene. (KXAN photo/Chris Nelson)

FILE — A pedestrian was hit and killed on Ben White Boulevard on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in southeast Austin. Traffic was delayed while crews responded to the scene. (KXAN photo/Chris Nelson)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On average, more than 11 people have died each day in traffic-related accidents on Texas roadways in 2021, state transportation leaders said Thursday. Each of these deaths have contributed to the state’s nearly 21-year streak of at least one traffic death per day.

“We have a real crisis in our state,” said Bob Kaufman, chief communications officer with the Texas Department of Transportation.

In a news conference on Thursday, TxDOT officials broke down preventable factors that have contributed to more than two decades’ worth of traffic fatalities. As of Thursday, TxDOT official Michael Chacon said there had been 3,556 fatalities statewide in 2021. Last year, the state saw 3,896 people die in fatal accidents.

For perspective: 2020’s total deaths figure was the highest in nearly 30 years.

“That was the highest fatality county we had in our state since 1984,” he said.

At the state’s current rate, Texas has the potential to hit 4,200 traffic deaths by the end of this year — and preventing this streak from continuing comes down to TxDOT, the community and individual drivers’ united efforts, Chacon said.

Of the 3,556 fatalities statewide thus far in 2021:

  • 1,174 people were killed due to speeding alone
  • 315 people were killed due to distracted driving
  • 555 pedestrians were killed in fatal traffic accidents
  • 889 people were killed due to not being buckled up

“It’s unimaginable and there’s no reason for that,” Chacon said.

Since 2015, TxDOT has run the #EndTheStreakTX campaign, a grassroots initiative aimed at informing drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, speeding or driving under the influence. As the state approaches its grim 21-year milestone Nov. 7, Chacon said it’s imperative to see the more than 70,000 lives lost in the past 21 years as human beings, not statistics.

“These are people in our lives,’ he said.

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