September 23, 2021
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The Texas Transportation Commission is forming a new task force comprised of representatives from the Texas Department of Transportation and the state’s metropolitan planning organizations or MPOs to reduce the number of fatalities on Texas highways.

[Above photo by TxDOT]

Co-chaired by Commissioners Laura Ryan and Alvin New, the Task Force seeks to create a “short-term plan” to beef up investments in a series of ongoing safety initiatives.

Laura Ryan

Those include building rumble strips that alert drivers to slow down and when they are veering off the road; cable barriers that prevent vehicles from sliding into on-coming traffic; and widening roadway shoulders to make more room for disabled vehicles.

That plan also seeks to build more four-lane divided roadways to help move traffic more efficiently and construct grade separations for uninterrupted traffic flow and increased safety.

“There is not a moment to waste to ramp up our collective efforts and do all that we can to save lives,” said Commissioner Ryan in a statement. “The trend in roadway fatalities is going in the wrong direction, and not a single death is acceptable. These numbers represent real people and real losses. We must do more, and it takes all of us working together.”

Alvin New

“Safety is always the top priority in meeting TxDOT’s mission of ‘Connecting You With Texas,’” added Commissioner New.

“We take this responsibility to heart and look forward to working very closely with the MPOs to strategically and thoughtfully find, evaluate, fund and measure solutions to help reach our goal of zero fatalities, with particular focus on progressing toward our mid-term goal of reducing deaths by half by the year 2035,” he said.

The United States as a whole experienced an uptick in roadway fatalities in 2020 despite a drop in vehicle miles travelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to preliminary estimates released June 3 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, some 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020: the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007, the agency said.

NHTSA’s analysis also showed that the main factors behind this increase in traffic fatalities include impaired driving, speeding, and failure to wear a seat belt.

editor@aashto.org

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