21 Years of Death: Lives Lost on Texas Roads Require a Rethink by TxDOT

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This past Sunday, November 21, 2021, marked World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims- a day dedicated to remembering the victims of traffic violence.

According to the United Nations, across the globe, traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death for people aged 5 to 19, with pedestrians, bikers and low-income communities facing disproportionately high impacts.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (“TxDOT”), November of 2021 marked 21 continuous years of daily deaths on Texas roadways, representing more than 75,000 lives lost to preventable crashes. Since the last day of remembrance, traffic crashes have claimed the lives of more than 4,200 Texans, an average of about 12 people every day.

This level of constant loss is alarming. Also alarming is the fact that TxDOT has been inconsistent in its efforts to “end the streak” of daily deaths. In 2019, TxDOT indicated its willingness to dramatically reduce roadway deaths when it joined a National Safety Council-sponsored effort known as “Road to Zero”, which set targets to cut traffic deaths in half by 2035, and altogether eliminate traffic deaths in Texas by 2050. However, in 2020 TxDOT slashed the funding for Road to Zero, from $600 million for fiscal years 2020 and 2021, to zero in 2022.

In regions where the reduction of traffic fatalities has been successful, significant investments were required in infrastructure to achieve a safe transportation system, where laws reduce distracted driving and roadway designs prioritize safety over capacity. Safety must be the guiding principle in every project, instead of passing this responsibility onto roadway users. Though TxDOT Commissioner Laura Ryan and Houston Regional Director Eliza Paul stated again at an event last month that TxDOT views roadway safety to be a personal responsibility, many don’t view their approach to be sufficient effort towards keeping our roadways safe, so now are petitioning the restoration of Road to Zero funding.

How TxDOT decides to approach safety from now on will determine how many future lives are lost on Texas roadways. We at the Herd Law Firm have seen too many clients injured or killed on Texas roadways. We call on TxDOT to recommit the goals outlined by the Road to Zero coalition and to fully fund these initiatives, critical steps needed to make and keep our roads safer for everyone.

You can show support TxDOT accountable by signing this petition: https://www.change.org/p/txdot-tell-txdot-to-renew-its-commitment-to-ending-traffic-deaths-in-texas?signed=true

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