Texans would probably like to celebrate one of these anniversaries every day, but unfortunately, the last fatality-free day on Texas roadways was November 7, 2000. George W. Bush was on his way to becoming President, the Baltimore Ravens had just won the first of 11 straight wins that would send them to a Super Bowl championship and gasoline was around $1.34 a gallon.
On this year’s anniversary, the Texas Department of Transportation asked motorists to observe the day (also the day after a Presidential election), as a reminder to be responsible drivers.
Last year the statewide police agencies reported an average of 8.35 road deaths per day. ”We’ve always kept track of it. It’s just not something we’ve announced in the past,” said transportation department spokeswoman Kelli Reyna. “We’re just trying to get a call of action to people. We’re putting fatality numbers on message signs. We’re trying to do more things to make motorists aware of their own actions that can prevent this. We feel it is incumbent upon us to remind people they have a job to do.”
Accident stats since Nov. 7, 2000 include:
- 41,252 people killed on Texas roads. That figure includes 3,048 people killed in 2011 and 2,545 so far this year.
- 28.9 percent weren’t wearing safety belts.
- 34.9 percent of the accidents involved alcohol.
- 13.4 percent involved distracted driving.
As the state raises speed limits, including the new 85 mph toll road that opened last month outside Austin, law enforcement officials say they’ll be stepping up their efforts to drive the number of fatalities down.