Traffic fatalities on the rise as more Texans hit the road
“It’s been since November 7, 2000 that we have had a deathless day on our state highways and that’s unacceptable.”
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - The pandemic brought about many changes over the past year, but one thing remained the same, crashes and fatalities on state highways. Despite many working from home and activities canceled or limited, according to TxDOT, the number of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities has increased.
As of Wednesday, more than 208,000 crashes have been reported statewide in the past 12 months. In Texas, 3,893 people were killed in automobile crashes during 2020, up from 3,623 deaths in 2019. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, that increase occurred even though traffic volumes were about 50% below normal for several months of the year.
For 2021, there have been 1,426 deaths on Texas roads. Officials with the Texas Department of Transportation say speed and not wearing seat belts are major contributing factors.
“Even though we’ve come out of a year during a pandemic, we actually have seen an increase in the number of deaths on our Texas roadways. You would think that they would be lower with more people staying at home, but that was not the case,” said Bob Colwell, with the TxDOT Bryan District.
According to TxDOT, in 2020 the Bryan-College Station area saw 30 fatalities and 54 serious injuries involving drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts. TxDOT says they want drivers to wear seat belts and stay aware of road conditions.
“It’s been since November 7, 2000 that we have had a deathless day on our state highways and that’s unacceptable,” said Colwell. “We just ask everyone to please, first of all, slow down, put their phone away, buckle up and pay attention to the conditions that they are driving in because the most important thing is to make it from point A to point B, to see the ones you love.”
In 2021, Highway 6 from Robertson County to Waller County has seen 210 accidents resulting in 11 deaths, according to transportation officials.
The most recent fatalities happened in Waller County. Two people died in separate crashes in the last seven days. Sergeant Justin Ruiz with the Texas Department of Public Safety says the drivers were not wearing seatbelts.
“We just had two that happened in Waller County where they we’re not using seatbelts,” said Ruiz. “Seatbelts save lives. I know everybody thinks that it doesn’t because they’ve seen some other statistics, but it actually does. There’s been a lot of live saved from seatbelts.”
Ruiz says the best thing you can do as a driver is stay alert and be a defensive driver.
“Slow down, be vigilant, keep the distractions in the car at a minimum. Put your cell phone down,” said Sgt. Ruiz. “Make sure you’re always paying attention to what’s going on on the road, be a defensive, not an offensive driver. Being defensive can help save your life and other people’s lives.”
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