TxDOT kicks off annual roadway safety campaigns

Many highway/expressway upgrades and construction have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused a lack of funding for such projects. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — Along with summertime comes increased travel on roadways.

And as motorists make their way toward their desired destinations, this state agency wants to make sure drivers get there safely.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) kicked off its annual “Be Safe. Drive Smart” and “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaigns this month.

The “Share the Road” campaign aims to alert drivers of the risks motorcyclists face on the road, such as being hard to see.

According to a TxDOT press release, on average, one motorcyclist dies every day on Texas roads.

In 2019, 412 motorcyclists died, and 1,812 were seriously injured on Texas roads.

The press release states that 30 percent of the motorcycle fatalities occurred in an intersection or were intersection-related.

“ Safety experts say that crashes between motorcyclists and drivers often occur when drivers make left turns in front of an oncoming motorcyclist, misjudging the distance and speed of the motorcycle,” the press release states.

TxDOT officials are urging motorists to exercise caution and limit distractions while on the road.

“ The six-month period from May through October is the deadliest for motorcycle riders and accounted for 61 percent of motorcycle fatalities in Texas last year,” TxDOT executive director James Bass stated. “That’s why we are urging drivers to look twice for motorcycles — there’s a life riding on it.”

Some tips for preventing vehicle and motorcycle crashes include — giving motorcyclists room when passing them, double-checking mirrors and blind spots, always using turn signals and driving with full attention on the road.

“ Even a momentary distraction, such as answering a phone call or changing the station, can have deadly consequences,” the press release states.

As part of the “Be Safe. Drive Smart” campaign, TxDOT officials encourage motorists to follow several tips to help them travel safely, stay alert and avoid being drowsy while driving.

Some of the tips include — being extra cautious while driving through road construction or maintenance work zones, always fasten the seatbelt and keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you.

To steer clear of driving while feeling sleepy, some TxDOT recommendations include — avoid driving between midnight and 6 a.m., utilizing Texas’ safety rest areas, scheduling breaks every two hours or 100 miles and resting for 15 to 20 minutes during each stop.

To view a map and brochure of Texas’ safety rest areas, visit https://tinyurl.com/yc3ckyze.