Every day for 16 years, at least one person died on Texas highways according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
“You talk, you text, you crash,” and #EndTheStreakTX are the messages this week from TxDOT in an effort to break the deadly 16-year streak.
According to TxDOT, there have been over 55,000 deaths from car related accidents in the state since November of 2000.
“Distracted driving is 100 percent preventable, and that is what we are trying to let people know,” TxDOT spokeswoman Kelli Reyna said. “That it is your choice, it is your life. We want everyone to think is that text or call worth your life? Because that’s the gamble you take every time you pick up your phone when you are driving.”
Last year, distracted driving crashes killed 482 people in Texas, or one person approximately every 18 hours. Authorities estimate that one in five accidents are due to drivers not paying attention to the road.
“We sometimes think that we can talk on the phone or send a text and still drive,” Mike Myers said, “and the reality is we can’t.”
Myers’ daughter Elana was driving home to Austin from Texas Tech in 2014.
“In just a few seconds, by the time you can count to five, Elana went from a wonderful, happy young women, and then she was dead,” Myers said.
Myers says Elana died because she took her eyes off the road for a quick second. Myers joined TxDOT’s #EndTheStreakTX campaign launched this month in memory of his daughter. He says he hopes to educated drivers on the dangers of distracted driving.
“What we are trying to do is get the message out in advance so that you never have to deal with the heartbreak of losing a loved one,” Reyna said. “Or with your family hearing the heartbreaking news of your life being lost due to a senseless decision.”
Texas is one of four states without a statewide hands-free law. State lawmakers have pushed several bills related to texting and driving since 2011, but none of them were signed into law. Myers hopes lawmakers reconsider a statewide ban during the upcoming legislative session which starts in January.
“It’s not worth talking on the phone and it’s not worth the quick text,” Myers said. “Just put away your phone and come home safe.”