AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is partnering with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), United States Department of Transportation (DOT), and fellow state police and highway patrol leaders from more than 40 states to promote the “Drive to Save Lives” campaign to help reduce highway fatalities across the country this year.  

“Drive to Save Lives” is a united effort by state police and highway patrol leaders to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent in 2014. Tragically, more than 33,000 deaths occur each year on our nation’s roadways. Highway fatalities rank as one of the top 12 causes of death in the United States and it is the leading cause of death among teens.

“The Texas Department of Public Safety is proud to join our partners across the country in an effort to reduce the number of highway fatalities, because as we know, most crashes are preventable,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “This program is an important initiative to help impact the behavior of drivers, and ultimately save lives.”

As Texas’ population continues to grow at a substantial rate – with approximately 1,200 individuals moving here each day – the number of roadway travelers is also on the rise. From 2012 to 2013, the number of total crashes in Texas increased 6.3 percent from 417,637 to 443,793, and fatal crashes increased from 3,032 to 3,035, according to preliminary crash data.

In an effort to decrease highway fatalities, “Drive to Save Lives” participants will make data driven decisions; focus on the use of seat belts and speeding; and target impaired and distracted driving. This effort will also include enforcement actions against the unsafe driving behaviors of the operators of large trucks and buses, and working to change the high-risk behaviors of motorists that lead to crashes through education and awareness, partnerships and high-visibility traffic enforcement.

“The IACP is thrilled to partner with the U.S. Department of Transportation on the ‘Drive to Save Lives’ campaign,” said Chief Yousry “Yost” Zakhary, IACP President. “During my 34 years as a law enforcement officer, I have responded to far too many crashes caused by speeding and witnessed too many deaths because drivers and/or passengers were not wearing their seat belts, and because of impaired and distracted driving. Crashes are preventable – and that is what this campaign aims to do. Prevent them from occurring in the first place. Through our partnership, we will work to reduce highway deaths in 2014, and the coming years, because even one death is too many.”

“Last year, we lost 33,000 lives on our nation’s roads, many of them because of drunk driving and from people not wearing seatbelts, speeding, and driving distracted,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “That’s why I’m pleased to join the International Association of Chiefs of Police in its ambitious goal to reduce highway fatalities by 15 percent. The Department of Transportation stands ready to do its part to help them achieve it.”

Another major element of “Drive to Save Lives” is officer safety, as traffic-related incidents are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths of law enforcement officers.

“This coordinated effort with IACP, U.S. DOT and our state law enforcement partners will become a force multiplier in keeping our roads safe, as well as the brave men and women putting their lives on the line every day to protect our communities,” said Director McCraw.

“Drive to Save Lives” will be an ongoing effort to prevent the needless deaths that occur on our roadways each year. Follow the campaign on Twitter at #Drive2SaveLives.