November 7, 2000 was the last day that someone didn’t lose their life while using a Texas road. Each day since someone has died in at least one motor vehicle accident in Texas. Now, the state’s transportation department is trying to end Texas’ road safety woes with a $600 million investment. Officials hope to end all roadway deaths in Texas by 2050.
How Dangerous are Texas’ Roads?
On average, ten people each day have lost their lives on Texas roads. This means that over 67,000 people have died in Texas motor vehicle accidents in the last 19 years. Laura Ryan, a member of the Texas Transportation Commission, told Texas Tribune this problem is unacceptable because of how preventable it is.
“I think as a state we’ve become very numb to it,” said Ryan. “This is probably one of the most deadly situations we have in the state, and it's one of the most controllable situations we have in the state. Ninety percent of the deaths that we’ve had over the 19 years are preventable.”
Texas doesn’t just have a road fatality problem; it’s led the nation in them since 2010. More people live and drive in California, and Texas still outranks that state in fatal car accidents.
How Officials Are Planning to Stop Fatal Accidents
Last May, the Texas Transportation Commission announced that it has a goal of eliminating road fatalities by 2050. It plans on accomplishing this goal with a $600 million budget that will bolster the funds it already uses to increase road safety. The commission will look to stopping some of the most preventable causes of fatal accidents to reach its ambitious goal.
Fatal road issues the new funds will address include:
- Drunk driving
- Failure to stay in a lane
- Rural accidents
- Cyclist & pedestrian safety
Of these incidents, drunk driving is the most prevalent. In 2018, 25.7 percent of fatal crashes involved a person under the influence of alcohol. While this is down from 34.5 percent in 2010, Ryan asserts that last year’s rate is still far too high.
“Yes, we're doing better. And I think that there's been a lot more awareness about drinking and driving. It's still 25 percent, and that's still too many,” commented Ryan.
Are Larger Vehicles Causing More Pedestrian Deaths?
Many experts believe that the increase in pedestrian deaths over the years correlates with the popularity of large trucks and SUVs. Texas has more deadly accidents involving SUVs than it does smaller cars. Fatal pedestrian and cyclist crashes have increased by 40% in Texas. Some safety advocates believe that placing a tax on a vehicle’s weight might decrease fatal pedestrian accidents.