DPS Trooper John Sampa has been on the job for 17 years. He’s seen a lot on the roadways around Houston, but he says the hardest part is telling someone their loved one has been killed.
“I had to give a death notification one time for notifying a lady that three of her generations had been killed in one car crash. So that kind of stuff stands out with me and I always tell folks, you know, don’t think it can’t happen to you, because it can happen to you.”
And Sampa says when they talk about vehicle crashes, they don’t like to use the word “accident.”
“An accident is something that someone has no control of, but a car crash, nine out of ten times, someone had control of the movement of that vehicle. They didn’t see another car, it was speeding, wasn’t paying attention.”
As part of its “Drive Friendly, Drive Safe” campaign, TxDOT is appealing to drivers to pay attention, especially to things that can pop up on the road at any time. TxDOT’s Deidrea Samuels says in Houston alone, over 450 pedestrians were hit by vehicles in 2011. 44 of those pedestrians were killed. Over 180 people were hit on bikes, and there were close to 600 accidents in work zones.
“If you’re talking on your phone or texting, you may not notice you’re entering a construction zone, and those speeds are going to change drastically. So you can go from 75 MPH to 35 MPH and if you’re looking down at your phone you’re not going to see that. And there goes a crash, right there.”
Figures from 2011 show that one person died every three hours in a crash on Texas roadways.