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Car crash fatalities up this year compared to last despite stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 5:39 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 18:39:20-05

KILLEEN, TX — State officials admitted that patrolling the roadways at the start of the pandemic was something they’ve never experienced before with the limited number of drivers traveling. Now that things are opening back up, fatal car crash calls are rising again.

Texas roadways were unusually quiet this year, but that doesn't mean there was a lack of deadly car crashes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, we’ve seen 76 fatal car crashes from March to September of this year. That’s eight more than in the same time period in 2019.

“That’s really alarming because we did have those stay-at-home orders and the pandemic, of course, and more people working from home,” said Jake Smith, the public information officer for TxDOT Waco District. “So we undoubtedly [saw] more cars on the road, and yet we’re still seeing more fatalities.”

While we can’t point out just one reason as to why this may be, Smith has a good indication.

“Unfortunately we are seeing a higher rate of speed and reckless and irresponsible driving,” he said.

So before you hit the roads, always be sure to put distractions away, set the radio to where you want it and keep your eyes on the road at all times.

“When you get in your vehicle until the moment you get out of it,” said Sgt. Erik Burse, the public information officer for Texas DPS. “Everything in between your destination and your departure, you have to pay attention.”

Paying attention behind the wheel could very well save a life.

“At least one death per day on Texas roads for over 20 years,” Smith explained. “It’s really jarring, and it’s just so incredibly sad because a lot of those crashes more than likely were preventable.”

Ending that 20-year streak is something we can work toward, but officials say it starts with ourselves.

“What’s the easiest thing we can do to where we could get one deathless day? Just one,” Sgt. Burse said. “Just start with one. What’s the easiest thing we can do? Just pay attention.”

With New Year's Eve right around the corner, officials urge the public to pre-plan and make sure you have a designated driver come the 31st.