Editor: Shannon Cottongame
November 10, 2021
It was late in the afternoon when Isaac Simmons got the call: a vehicle was broken down along a stretch of I-45 in Fairfield, and Simmons, a 35-year-old tow truck driver, headed out to help.
While wenching the car onto his tow truck, the routine stop suddenly became horrific. A speeding car careened off the road, rolled up the tow truck’s sliding bed and flew through the air. The airborne car slammed into Simmons. Two days later he died, making him one of more than 3,200 people who have been killed on Texas roads so far in 2021.
“He was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He always wanted to make everybody smile,” said Nathan Bryant, a fellow tow truck driver who considered Simmons a brother. “Sometimes it can be a little dicey out there because nobody moves over, nobody slows down. They don’t care about human life on the side of the road.”
This November 7, Texas marked 21 years of daily deaths on our roadways with more than 75,000 innocent lives lost to preventable fatal crashes. For the past several years, about 10 people have died every day in crashes in the state. During the height of the pandemic when traffic dropped nearly 50%, the death rate climbed to more than 11 a day, shocking state transportation leaders.
Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan, a champion for road safety and TxDOT’s #EndTheStreakTX campaign, said every Texan must do their part. And while the goal of ending the deadly streak is ambitious, Ryan said, it is far from impossible.
“We stick with it. We keep telling the story. We fight back when people say personal responsibility is not a thing. It is. And we don’t give up,” Ryan said. “I am hopeful that it will happen sooner than later, but I am confident that it will happen.”
Most crashes and fatalities are preventable and caused by things such as speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving. That’s why the approach to reaching zero deaths must be through what TxDOT calls the three E’s – engineering, education and enforcement. That way, everyone has a responsibility to keep our roads and fellow drivers safe.
Because #EndTheStreakTX is a social media, grassroots and word-of-mouth effort, Texans are being asked to help raise awareness by making and encouraging safe decisions, posting with the hashtag on social media and sharing their personal stories.