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Don't Let the Ho Ho Ho of the Holidays Turn Into an Oh, No On the Road

AMARILLO –  Christmas is only nine short days away. Between the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and many people hitting the road this weekend for winter vacations, TxDOT wants to remind drivers to not lose focus when behind the wheel.

At December’s meeting of the Texas Transportation Commission, Commissioner Alvin New referenced the disturbing trend of increasing fatalities on Texas roadways. 

“The things that cause bad wrecks are speed, driving under the influence and distracted driving,” the commissioner said. “And know that there are three actions that lead most commonly to fatalities and they are the lack of wearing a seat belt, leaving your lane and traveling through intersections – so you have the ability to control a lot of what you do and you can certainly try to influence others to control what they do to try and get this headed back in the right direction.”

Statewide, the average fatalities per day is at 11.7 percent so far for 2021, up from 10.6 percent in 2020.  Of the state's 4,089 roadway fatalities this year, 79 have been reported in the Amarillo District.

“One of the best things we can do to help save lives is the first thing we should do every time we enter a vehicle – and that’s putting on our seatbelt,” says Amarillo District Engineer Blair Johnson. “34% of the fatalities in our District this year involved people not wearing their seatbelt.”

In addition to seatbelts, here are a few other ways to help keep you, your passengers, and fellow motorists safe when traveling this holiday season:

  • Have a plan for getting home safely before drinking – #PlanWhileYouCan and designate a sober driver or have a ride service at the ready
  • Avoid distractions – whether it is food, mobile phones, mascara - #ItCanWait
  • Take frequent breaks to avoid fatigue and drowsy driving
  • Ensure your child is in a certified car seat and that the seat is installed and used properly
  • Practice defensive driving

Remember, TxDOT and other transportation departments across the country have safety rest areas and parking areas. These are great places to stretch your legs, switch drivers, refocus and get some respite to help avoid fatigue and drowsiness. 

In addition to safety rest areas, TxDOT has several Travel Information Centers across the state, including the one at 9700 E. I-40/Airport Blvd. in Amarillo. All Travel Information Centers, except the Capitol Visitor Center in Austin, are open from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Capitol Visitor Center in Austin is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Helpful numbers:

  • Texas Road Conditions:  800-452-9292 or DriveTexas
  • New Mexico Road Conditions:  800-432-4269
  • Oklahoma Road Conditions:  405-425-2385

#BeSafeDriveSmart and help TxDOT #EndTheStreakTX of daily deaths on Texas roadways – ensuring everyone has a happy and safe holiday season.