Highway Fatalities Drop Texas-Wide

The Texas Department of Transportation says highway fatalities declined in 2009 — down 11 percent from 2008. TxDOT says safer roads and safer drivers contributed to the sharp decrease. Wendy Siegle has more.

According to TxDOT, 3,089 people died on Texas highways in 2009. That’s 388 fewer deaths than the year before, a drop of eleven percent. TxDOT’s Kelli Petras says the decrease took the agency by surprise.

“We are very fortunate to have received this low number. We’ve been trying really hard to get our fatality numbers down.”

Eleven percent is quite significant considering the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the year-on-year decrease in Texas from 2007 to 2008 at a mere two percent. Petras says a number of factors contributed to the sharp decrease.

“We base it on basically a three prong approach, from engineering, enforcement, education.”

TxDOT says people are driving safer and obeying seatbelt laws. Since 2005 TxDOT has allocated $1.2 billion from the Texas Safety Bond Program for projects specifically designed to shrink the number of crashes on its roadways. Petras says those safety projects also contributed to the decline. She says things like widening roads, adding left turn lanes, and putting up concrete barriers help curb the number of severe crashes.

“If we continue to do things to our highways that make them safer then hopefully we’ll be able to decrease the 3,000 to 2,000 next year, and eventually get to the zero fatalities.”

The decline in fatalities isn’t unique to Texas. In its preliminary crash data for 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the amount of traffic fatalities nationwide is down almost 9 percent from 2008.

Wendy Siegle KUHF News

For more information on these findings, visit TxDOT’s Safer Roads Contribute to Significant Drop in Highway Fatalities and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Statistics on the Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2009.

For more on this story from Wendy Siegle, visit the Transportation Nation blog.