2021 Marks Second Deadliest Year on Texas Roads Since 1981

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), November 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. That is 21 years of daily deaths on our roadways with more than 75,000 lives lost to preventable, fatal crashes. More than 4,480 people were killed on Texas roads in 2021, making it the second deadliest year since TxDOT began tracking fatalities in 1940. Sadly, 1981 was the deadliest year with 4,701 fatalities.

The increase in fatalities in Texas last year reflects a deadly trend nationwide. An estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18.4% over 2020. In Texas, traffic fatalities were up 15 percent from 2020-2021.

Changing driver behavior is one of the most important solutions. In 2020, nearly one in five crashes on Texas roads were caused by a distracted driver. In 2021, a total of 1,522 people were killed because of speed, and a total of 1,219 people were killed because they were not wearing a seat belt. These distractions and decisions could have easily been prevented and 2,741 lives could have been saved.

East Texas, in particular – the Atlanta District, is seeing a steady increase in fatal crashes. That district also led the state in the number of roadway deaths per vehicle miles traveled in 2020. The TxDOT Atlanta District covers Bowie, Cass, Camp, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Panola, Titus, and Upshur Counties. Officials say speed is one of the top reasons for the increase.

“Drivers are running red lights, they’re driving way too fast on roads that cannot accommodate those speeds, and drivers are distracted and not wearing seat belts,” Wells said. “Drivers need to make paying attention, buckling up, and slowing down a habit. This is something they can do every day to ensure that everyone gets home safely.”

TxDOT launched a campaign called #EndTheStreakTX in hopes that daily fatal crashes in the state will end. The campaign offers these tips to prevent distracted driving that can protect drivers on the road:
  • Always give driving your full attention
  • Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk or text
  • Put your phone away, turn it off, or adjust your settings to block texts and calls while driving
  • Tell friends, family, and co-workers you won’t respond to texts or calls while driving
  • Remember that all distractions are dangerous, so pay full attention when behind the wheel

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