Be safe and enjoy the ride!
I hope 2019 is off to a great start for you, even though getting back into the daily schedule after the holidays is tough on many of us. Many of you, like me, may already be struggling to keep those resolutions we made on New Year’s Eve.
This is always a great time of year to remind the community of a couple of resolutions that should never be forgotten. And just like any other change we make, they have to be worked at daily until they are like second nature to us.
TxDOT has resolved to continue to provide you with the best transportation system and to daily enhance the safety of our roadways so that when you drive, your experience is such that you can easily choose to keep your resolutions about safe driving. Those should be not talking or texting when you drive and designating a driver if you are drinking.
Distracted driving and alcohol-related crashes continues to be the top causes of fatal crashes in East Texas. I really want to see those statistics change and I know you do also. The thing is, the only way those statistics will ever change is if we resolve to change them and we make a clear choice each day to drive safely.
The thing is, I don’t think improving state statistics will motivate you to make a needed change in your driving habits. It has to be more personal than just numbers. If someone you know was involved in a crash last year, would that motivate you to stop and think? What if the crash involved a member of your family, or your teenage driver? Maybe the crash wasn’t their fault. Maybe they were an innocent victim.
None of us would intentionally cause a crash that could inflict pain and suffering on another person. And I know there is not a parent alive who hands the keys to a teen driver who doesn’t say a prayer when that teen pulls out of the driveway. The truth is we can never be sure what the ‘other driver’ will do. All we can be sure of is what we will do. But remember, to everyone else, we are the other driver.
Will you resolve this year to put down your phone when you drive? Will you resolve not to let anything distract you from keeping your eyes on the road in front of you? Will you resolve not to drink and drive and make a plan before you go out for the evening? Because even buzzed driving is drunk driving.
This is a good time to sit down with teen drivers, and even the younger and older adult drivers in your family and talk to them about safe driving. Because this time next year, I want to be able to say the statistics have improved and that they improved because we were all motivated to drive safely. I hope I can also say that none of us lost a loved one in a crash because of distracted driving or alcohol. If the safety of your loved ones doesn’t motivate you to drive safer this year, all the resolutions in the world definitely won’t. Be safe and enjoy the ride.
- Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.