Arlington, Texas – The COVID-19 pandemic has brought various public safety efforts into focus, including the importance of safe driving on highways and city streets alike.
In April 2020, North Texas freeway volumes declined nearly 30%. However, as traffic congestion lessened, those who were on the roads were able to drive faster. Consequently, the crashes that happened were more serious. As people have returned to working in offices, traffic has largely rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. But the roads remain dangerous. In 2021, the Dallas-Fort Worth area also saw an increase in crashes, including those resulting in serious injuries or fatalities.
“We have more work to do as a state and region to improve roadway safety,” said North Central Texas Council of Governments Transportation Director Michael Morris, P.E. “The Council of Governments is committed to working with our state and local partners to make the roads safer for all users.”
Attention is paid to roadway safety throughout the year, but the issue is highlighted in April. Throughout the month, the National Safety Council will commemorate Distracted Driving Awareness Month, reminding drivers to pay attention while behind the wheel and share the road.
Work Zone Awareness Week will also be celebrated April 11-15. This is a week especially important in fast-growing areas of Texas like Dallas-Fort Worth, where billions of dollars are being spent to improve the reliability of the transportation system and active construction zones are commonplace.
The Texas Department of Transportation has enlisted the assistance of 23 Metropolitan Planning Organizations across the state – including NCTCOG – to enhance safety. TxDOT and the state’s MPOs are collaborating on a statewide safety task force to develop solutions to help reduce serious and fatal crashes.
TxDOT and regions across the state are working to meet a goal set by the Texas Transportation Commission to reduce the number of deaths on Texas roadways by 50% by 2035 and to zero by 2050.
NCTCOG uses a combination of outreach efforts to help make the roads safer and more efficient. Here are some examples of campaigns:
• The Drive Aware North Texas campaign aims to bring attention to the issue of driver safety and help reduce the number of serious crashes by improving negative driver behaviors such as distracted driving and speeding.
• The Safe Driving Campaign was a freight-related effort in 2021 to encourage all drivers – whether in passenger vehicles or trucks – to think about freight safety on the roadways and at rail crossings.
• Operation Lifesaver and NCTCOG also coordinated last year on the Railroad Crossing Safety Campaign, which sought to reduce rail crossing wrecks and inform the public about safe rail crossing practices. Railroad crossing incidents in Dallas-Fort Worth have declined steadily since 2000.
• Look Out Texans is an educational campaign intended to improve roadway safety through a series of 21 tips encouraging North Texans to watch for one another, whether they choose to bike, walk or drive. Many of the tips involve reminders of safely driving near bicyclists and pedestrians.
Outside of campaigns to bring awareness to safety, NCTCOG continues to equip first responders to handle incidents safely and efficiently through its Traffic Incident Management training. More than 3,300 emergency responders from 132 cities and counties throughout the region have completed this training.
About the North Central Texas Council of Governments:
NCTCOG is a voluntary association of local governments established in 1966 to assist local governments in planning for common needs, cooperating for mutual benefit and coordinating for sound regional development. NCTCOG's purpose is to strengthen both the individual and collective power of local governments and to help them recognize regional opportunities, eliminate unnecessary duplication and make joint decisions.
NCTCOG serves a 16-county region of North Central Texas, which is centered on the two urban centers of Dallas and Fort Worth. Currently, NCTCOG has 238 member governments including 16 counties, 169 cities, 22 school districts and 27 special districts. For more information on the NCTCOG Transportation Department, visit www.nctcog.org/trans