To keep Texans safe on the road, the Texas Department of Transportation is not only educating people about the dangers of driving but encouraging people to promote the need for safe driving.
Through social media, the #EndTheStreakTX campaign is one way TxDOT is encouraging safe driving techniques.
Dianah Ascencio, public information officer for the TxDOT Lubbock District, said the campaign is meant to encourage people to drive safely and to tag 10 other people to do the same. People who are tagged can tag another 10 people in order to further spread the message.
“Our #EndTheStreakTX campaign is to encourage drivers, motorists, passengers to do what they can to end that streak of daily fatalities in the state of Texas,” she said. “Basically, we are urging drivers to practice safe driving behaviors all the time, every time they get behind the wheel.”
Putting on a seatbelt, not drinking and driving and not distracting the driver are ways Ascencio said drivers or passengers can help prevent accidents on the road.
“The last time we had a fatality-free day on Texas roadways was Nov. 7, 2000,” she said. “So, it’s been 19 years. Every day for the last 19 years, we’ve had at least one fatality on Texas roadways.”
In the last 19 years, Ascencio said there were over 67,000 deaths on Texas roadways.
“That figure, 67,000, essentially breaks down to about 3,600 fatalities on our roadways every year,” she said. “Then, if you break it down even further, that’s 9 to 10 fatalities every day in the state of Texas. That’s nine or 10 families that are being impacted in a very real and tragic way every day.”
In Lubbock, there were 29 reported traffic fatalities in 2016, 26 in 2017, 20 in 2018 and 43 in 2019, according to information provided by the Lubbock Police Department.
TxDOT is working to end this streak of fatalities, Ascencio said. Working to end the fatalities on roadways could save families from the heartache of dealing with a death of a loved one.
“It’s largely a social media campaign,” she said. “We have a large Twitter and Facebook, Instagram presence, and we are challenging people to tag 10 of their followers, 10 of their friends and encouraging them to send the message of #EndTheStreakTX.”
In addition to the efforts of TxDOT, Ascencio said help from the public is necessary to end the streak of fatalities.
“TxDOT can do what it can to design, build and maintain safe roadways,” she said. “But we also need the public’s help.”
Individuals can take action by eliminating bad driving habits, Ascencio said.
“The top three contributing factors to fatalities here in the Lubbock area are driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to drive in a single lane and failure to control speed,” she said. “Those are three things, as drivers, we are all in control of.”
Overall, Ascencio said the campaign is trying to spotlight the idea that individuals can make an impact.
“That’s what this campaign is trying to stress,” she said, “is that we are all responsible. We all have a hand in making sure that we’re safe on the roadway and that other drivers are safe on the roadway by our own driving habits.”
Eliminating one’s bad driving habits could have an impact on the driving fatalities issue.
“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94 percent of all traffic crashes are preventable,” Ascencio said. “Meaning, they are caused by driver mistakes or our mistakes as we’re driving.”
TxDOT promotes a variety of campaigns throughout the year, Ascencio said. One may focus more on having a designated driver during the holidays while another may focus on driving slower in school zones when school starts.
Regardless, these campaigns may promote similar messages.
“They all fit into that one overall message that we can end the streak by making sure that we are safe drivers,” she said.
In addition to promoting the need for safe driving, Ascencio said other steps will be taken to make Texas roadways safer.
“The state has dedicated an additional $600,000,000 in safety improvements to Texas roadways over the next two years,” she said. “Some of the improvements we’re undertaking to improve safety include widening roadways, adding rubble strips along the center median, widening shoulders and reinforcing shoulders, and it’s all towards that goal of ending the streak of daily deaths in the state of Texas.”