November 7 Marks 22 Years of Daily Deaths on Texas Roads | New

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AUSTIN — Huntsville native Peyton Irwin was on her way to San Antonio to support a friend in 2019 when a distracted driver terminated the vehicle she was in, killing her and three others.

Peyton, who was killed aged 19, was one of 3,623 people who died on a Texas road that year.

On Monday, Texas is set to hit a grim milestone as Nov. 7 marks 22 straight years of daily deaths on Texas roads. Since Nov. 7, 2000 – the last day without a death – 79,000 people have died, an average of at least 10 people per day, according to state data.

“The numbers are crazy on how many people die every day, and just to think my daughter is among those numbers now,” said Deanna Irwin, Peyton’s mother.

A week before her death, Peyton signed a lease to move into her own apartment and attend school to become an X-ray technician at Bryan–College Station.

Deanna said Peyton is looking forward to making some decent money so she can travel the world.

The driver, then 18, was looking at his phone when he collided with the car, Deanna said.

In 2019, 379 people were killed in crashes involving distracted driving, according to state data. Between 2011 and 2020, 4,382 people died in car crashes caused by distracted driving. More than 10,250 people have been killed in traffic crashes where a driver was under the influence of alcohol during the same period, the data shows.

Since her daughter’s death, Deanna has made it her mission to raise awareness about distracted driving through the Peyton Irwin Foundation, where an annual run raises money for scholarships, among other efforts.

“I don’t think people understand the importance and impact a phone can have on someone’s life while driving,” Deanna said. “A lot of people don’t realize how many lives such an impact has. It’s not just impacting my life and my husband’s life, it’s impacting his school friends, their school friends right down to their parents.

In an effort to end road deaths in Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation is also promoting its #EndTheStreakTX awareness campaign.

Madison Schein, public information officer for the TxDOT Dallas district, said the number of deaths is on the rise, with driving under the influence, distracted driving and dangerous speeds being the top three causes.

She said while education is an important component of TxDOT’s efforts, the agency is also looking for ways to make roads safer. TxDOT is constantly evaluating signage and working to implement road shoulders, rumble strips and other safety measures where crashes occur frequently, Schein said.

She added that over the past two years, the state has spent more than $600 million on improving road safety.

But even with all the safety measures in place, it ultimately comes down to the driver, Schein said, adding that law enforcement has found that the majority of crashes that do occur are preventable.

“The person behind the wheel is the one controlling the gas pedal, and so we need this to be a team effort to try to educate on how to drive safely and practice those behaviors,” said Schein.

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