At least one person has been killed on a Texas road every day for the last 16 years, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
That sobering statistic, which has resulted in more than 55,000 deaths since Nov. 7, 2000, has prompted TxDOT to launch its #EndTheStreakTX social media campaign. The campaign aims to encourage drivers to make better decisions behind the wheel.
“TxDOT’s plan is a noble goal, for sure, but they’re really not asking for a lot with this,” Fort Worth Police Department Sgt. Brent Halford said. “That’s not just an optimistic goal, that’s something [that should be] a very realistic goal. They’re really setting the benchmark pretty low there.”
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Halford spoke with NBC 5 as a representative of the FWPD, but also as a man who lost a good friend during that streak.
Officer Dwayne Freeto was nine months into his career with the Fort Worth Police Department in December 2006 when he stopped to help a driver who had blown out a tire along Interstate 35W. Freeto’s patrol car was rear-ended by a drunk driver, which caused the car to burst into flames and trap the husband and father of two inside, killing him.
Halford lamented the fact that Freeto’s daughters were forced to grow up without a father because someone made a bad, and preventable, decision. And he added that the figure of 55,000 people killed does not even begin to address the impact.
“If every one of those people had two children, and one brother, and one sister, and two parents look at how many people are affected,” he said. “Now you’re talking hundreds of thousands of people that are dealing with this for the rest of their life.”
Accidents are bound to happen, according to Halford, but many fatal crashes involve people who have made poor decisions, like drinking and driving, failing to buckle their safety belts, driving distracted or speeding.