Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Stories Added - July 2008
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Traffic deaths down statewide, not in Polk County
Polk County Enterprise - July 2008

AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Transportation reports that the number of traffi c fatalities statewide has decreased by 2.7 percent. In Polk County, 25 people died as a result of car crashes in 2007, up from 23 in 2006. Forty-one people suffered incapacitating injuries in 2007, 51 were reported in 2006. The number of non-incapacitating injuries rose with 137 injuries reported in 2007, up from 111 in 2006. The total number of crashes increased by six in 2007. In 2007, 641 crashes were reported; in 2006, 635 were reported. So far in 2008, Livingston police have investigated 271 crashes inside the city limits. Statewide the picture is much different. In 2007, 96 fewer lives were lost on Texas roadways, resulting in a 2.7 percent decrease in the total number of traffi c fatalities suffered in the state. In recent years, TxDOT has provided hundreds of millions of dollars specifi cally targeted for transportation safety. The 2004 Safety Bond Program funded 644 projects to widen narrow two-lane highways, to install dedicated left-turn lanes, to install median barriers and other important highway safety improvements.

TxDOT’s annual Highway Safety Improvement Program also funds hundreds of projects that improve highway safety for all public roads. “Improving safety is our most important goal,” said Amadeo Saenz, TxDOT’s executive director. “This decrease in total traffi c fatalities demonstrates that the major investments we have made in transportation safety are producing real and signifi cant results for our citizens. Every life saved on our highways represents a real tragedy that Texas families have not had to endure. This is a major step forward.” TxDOT’s Texas Traffi c Safety Program also provides approximately $50 million per year to improve driver behavior by decreasing dangerous actions such as driving while intoxicated, increasing safety belt compliance, and enforcing speed limits. “Making sure the public has the safest transportation system possible is at the center of everything we do,” said Saenz. “It is extremely gratifying to see these positive results in part from our implementation of the Safety Bond Program.

The ability to issue these bonds has allowed us to target high-risk locations and get projects on the ground faster.” The Safety Bond Program allows TxDOT to issue general obligation bonds secured by the state highway fund to accelerate transportation projects, with twenty percent of the bonds earmarked for safety projects. “It is extremely encouraging to see the overall number of traffi c fatalities decrease, especially considering how fast our state’s population is increasing” Saenz said. “We have more drivers and vehicles than at any other time in our history.” In 2007, Texas had more than 20 million vehicles registered. The total number of motor vehicles registered in Texas during 2000 was 14.2 million. As part of its efforts to make Texas highways as safe as possible, TxDOT has installed more than 400 miles of additional median cable barrier.

These devices, designed to prevent head-on collisions when an errant vehicle crosses a median into oncoming traffi c, prevented 18 fatalities and 26 serious injuries during the fi rst year of their use in Texas. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Offi cials recently adopted a national goal to reduce the traffi c fatalities by 1,000 per year. The Texas decrease in traffi c fatalities for 2007 allows the state to contribute approximately 10 percent to this important national safety goal. TxDOT also collects and analyzes crash data as part of its mission to improve transportation safety. The 3,422 traffi c fatalities suffered in Texas during 2007 means there is still work to do.


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