SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KSHV) – The numbers are out and the Texas Department of Transportation is sounding the alarm after 2021 shows another increase in the number of fatalities due to crashes in the Atlanta District.

“In 2021, there were 135 people killed in crashes across our nine-county district,” said Atlanta District Director of Transportation Operations Rebecca Wells. “That number is up from 119 vehicle fatalities in 2020, and 78 vehicle fatalities in our area in 2019.”  “What’s also very alarming,” Wells said, “is that in 2020, our district led the state in the number of roadway deaths per vehicle miles traveled.”

The TxDOT Atlanta District covers Bowie, Cass, Camp, Harrison, Marion, Morris, Panola, Titus, and Upshur Counties. Officials say speed is one of the top reasons for the increase.

“Drivers are running red lights, they’re driving way too fast on roads that cannot accommodate those speeds, and drivers are distracted and not wearing seat belts,” Wells said. “Drivers need to make paying attention, buckling up, and slowing down a habit. This is something they can do every day to ensure that everyone gets home safely.”

In 2019 there were 78 vehicle deaths. That number jumped to 119 in 2020 and reached 135 last year. There has been a vehicle fatality every day in Texas for the last 21 years. More than 75,000 people have lost their lives to what officials say were preventable crashes.

Atlanta District Engineer Buddy Williams says we all have people we care about and should drive the way we would want others to in order to protect them. The Texas Dept. of Transportation launched a campaign called #EndTheStreakTX, hoping the daily fatal crashes in the state will end.

The campaign offers these tips to prevent distracted driving that can protect drivers on the road:

·         Always give driving your full attention

·         Pull off the road entirely and come to a complete stop before you talk or text

·         Put your phone away, turn it off, or adjust your settings to block texts and calls while driving

·         Tell friends, family, and co-workers you won’t respond to texts or calls while driving

·         Remember that all distractions are dangerous, so pay full attention when behind the wheel