Nov. 9, 2000 was one of the most important days in recent Texas history. Today, almost nobody can even remember it.
Two days after the election that put a Texas governor in the White House, the Y2K scare was almost a year in the past and the World Trade Center attack was less than a year in the future. Nearly two decades later, do you remember that Thursday?
That day, nobody died in a vehicle crash in Texas. If anyone had known there would not be another day in Texas without at least one traffic death, a streak still unbroken even now, they could have paused to appreciate a day like that.
Not just a big-city problem
The traffic hazards of big-city Texas get a lot of attention. News articles have reported the gradual progress Austin has made in its Vision Zero Action Plan for zero traffic deaths by 2025. The Houston Chronicle published a series of articles on that city’s drivers, which it called “the country’s most deadly.”
But one out of four traffic deaths in the state happens well outside our cities.
A researcher at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute told the Texas Tribune, “You see higher speeds, you have single lanes going two directions, you have no shoulders, [yet drivers] are still doing the same things that they would be doing on the freeway.”
Driving while intoxicated a smaller, but still big, problem
In the past decade, the role of alcohol in our streak of daily fatal wrecks has gone down by more than 8%. That means drunk driving is now a factor in 25% of the 3,500 or so funerals attended each year by the loved ones of Texans killed on the road.
Vehicles killing people who are walking or cycling
Nationwide, both cyclists and pedestrian deaths increased in 2018, with pedestrian deaths at their highest since 1990.
Maybe most disturbingly, women cyclists suffered a 29.2% spike in deaths in 2018 compared to 2017. By comparison, fatalities among male cyclists rose by 3.2%.
But those are national numbers. Texas is the eighth most dangerous state for pedestrians and is trending in the wrong direction, as reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.