Texas Adopts Goal to End Traffic Deaths by 2050

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At least one person has been killed in a traffic crash in Texas every day since Nov. 7, 2000.

That’s why Vision Zero Texas has enabled advocates to push Texas leaders, including a letter-writing campaign (with Salud America! participation) and in-person advocacy, for strategies to improve road safety and set a goal to have zero deaths on state roads.

The efforts are paying off.

In May 2019, the Texas Transportation Commission voted to adopt a goal of reducing traffic fatalities on the state’s roadways to zero by the year 2050!

Traffic Deaths in Texas

Nearly 3,600 people died on Texas roads in 2018.

Why?

Human factors, like distracted driving and speeding, vehicle factors, like breaks and headlights, and roadway factors, like access points and pedestrian crossings. Latinos (who comprise 39.4% of the Texas population) face dangerous neighborhood roads and are in the most danger when walking.

Slide from presentation to the Texas Transportation Commission on May 30 2019.

Designing roadways to better safety standards could reduce the severity of collisions related to human, vehicle and roadway factors and prevent thousands of fatalities and serious injuries each year.

TxDOT identified engineering “countermeasures” to improve traffic safety in its Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2017-2022. But the target level of fatalities in 2022 is 4,241, which is 600 more fatalities than in 2018.

Jay Blazek Crossley, executive director of Farm&City, a nonprofit that spurs statewide traffic safety advocacy through its Vision Zero Texas project, believes the state can do better.

“Texas leads the nation in traffic deaths and serious injuries, and we can lead the nation in eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries,” Crossley said.

Safe speed policy, comprehensive safety measures, and structural changes to how we approach transportation planning and funding are on the table, Crossley added.

“Originally the activists aimed to convince the legislature,” according to Angie Schmitt of Streetsblog USA. “But eventually they decided it was better to focus on the five-member Texas Transportation Commission, which governs the Texas Department of Transportation.”

Letter Writing

In April 2019, Vision Zero Texas organized a letter-writing campaign urging the Texas Transportation Commission to adopt a zero fatality goal.

Seventy-two people sent letters, 31 of which were Salud America! members. The Salud America! letter-writing webpage also generated over 700 unique page views and helped drive support for the zero-death goal and a petition for lower speed limits in Texas neighborhoods.

Jay Crossley at dangerous intersection in Houston. Source: Annie Mulligan Contributor, Houston Chronicle

The agenda for the May 2019 Texas Transportation Commission meeting included an item to consider establishing a Road to Zero traffic safety goal to reduce the number of state roadway deaths.

On May 30, the Texas Transportation Commission ordered the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to develop strategies for reducing traffic deaths by half by 2035 and to zero by 2050.

“The commission acknowledges a majority of motor vehicle crashes can be prevented, thereby reducing fatalities,” the order states.

Vision Zero Texas’ advocacy proved successful─but they aren’t done yet.

“The work has only just begun,” said Crossley, according to Schmitt. “We’re going to continue supporting TxDOT and the commission as they take on this vision. We’re going to work with every city, county, and MPO [Metropolitan Planning Organization] in the state to join TxDOT in taking responsibility for ending traffic deaths.”

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By The Numbers By The Numbers

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Pedestrians survive when hit by a car at 40 MPH

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