AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 70,000 people have died on Texas roads since November 2000, and a grim anniversary for the state is on the horizon.
The last deathless day on Texas roadways was Nov. 7, 2000, meaning since then, at least one person has died every day while driving in Texas over the past two decades.
The social media driven #EndTheStreakTX initiative by the Texas Department of Transportation is another way the agency is trying to reach people with a simple message: pay attention to the road and obey speed limits while you’re behind the wheel.
On average, 10 people die per day in crashes across the state, TxDOT says. There’s a sliver of hope, however, TxDOT Commissioner Laura Ryan says about working toward no deaths on roadways by 2050.
“Last year, 20 Texas counties actually had zero deaths on their roadways – that tells me we can end the streak of daily deaths in Texas,” Ryan said.
TxDOT is hoping the initiative helps cut deaths in half by 2035, as well.
TxDOT says the top three causes of crashes are driving under the influence, speeding and distracted driving. Since 2019 through the end of September, 391 people have died on roads in the four-county area of Travis, Williamson, Hays and Bastrop counties. Of those deaths, 16% of them have happened between 5-10 a.m., so during the morning commute, in other words.
“Slow down. Being late is OK if you get there safely,” Ryan said. “Raising two children as a working mother, I can tell you mornings — I agree — probably one of the most chaotic parts of the day, but I would also remind morning drivers that they’re going to work to take care of their families, and those families want them back at the end of the day.”
To participate in the initiative, TxDOT asks people to:
- Post pictures on social media with this downloadable sign displaying the hashtag #EndTheStreakTX
- Use one of our social media profile filters
- Join the #TexasTag10 challenge on social media and tag ten family members or friends and encourage them to say what they will do differently to avoid a fatal crash on our roads.
Traffic around Austin, TxDOT says, is still around 80% of what it previously was before the COVID-19 pandemic. In Texas as a whole, even with traffic in decline, that hasn’t meant deaths on the roads have declined, TxDOT says. The death rate hasn’t changed, even with less drivers on the road.