WACO, Texas — New statistics from the Texas Department of Transportation show 2021 as the second most deadly year on record for Texas roads, following only 1981 by just 221 deaths.
There were 4,480 people killed statewide in car crashes in 2021. Those numbers include vehicle/vehicle crashes and vehicles/pedestrians or workers on the side of the road.
Texas law says drivers must slow down or move over for first responders or workers. but that doesn't always happen.
"My brother got took from me," Texas resident Nathan Bryant said after losing a friend to a traffic crash. "How do you replace that? You don't."
Bryant lost his friend Issac Simmons in May of 2021. Simmons was a tow truck driver struck while helping a vehicle on the side of the road. Now his friend is encouraging drivers to pay more attention and limit distractions when driving.
"For god's sake, that phone call, that text message ain't worth it," Bryant said. "Literally a blink of an eye your world can end or you can destroy somebody else's world."
Distracted driving is just one of the many causes of the high number of fatalities across the state.
"A lot of these driving fatalities are caused by driver behavior and that's not wearing a seatbelt, speeding, or driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs," TX DOT Representative Jake Smith told 25 News.
The state is still on a more than 22-year streak of death every day on Texas roads, Smith said TX DOT is working hard to raise awareness and break the trend.
"Not only do we want to reverse the trend overall of traffic deaths, but we want to eventually limit all traffic deaths," he said. "That means starting with ending the streak. One day without a traffic death, then build and build and get these roads as safe as they possibly can be."
Texas is not alone in seeing an increase in traffic deaths. Nationwide there was also an 18 percent increase in 2021.