A Call For Action
Letter to All TxDOT Employees
and to All Texas Traffic Safety Stakeholders
Revised: January 23, 2021
I’m glad you decided to read this letter. Thanks for making that decision and for taking the time out of your schedule to allow me to express a few of my thoughts. Also, thanks to TxDOT management for taking the time out of their busy schedules to meet with me over the past several years. I am truly humbled to have this opportunity to discuss a few issues of the Texas traffic safety system and to offer my ideas for improvement.
You may have worked at TxDOT for many years, you may be a new hire, you may be somehow associated with the Texas roadway safety system, or you may simply be a Texas road-user, in any case, we have inherited, through no fault of our own, a massive traffic safety system of many organizations that has a day-to-day, business-as-usual safety model that enables near ten deaths per day (average) on Texas roadways. It is my belief that this statewide organizational structure is flawed. I believe the Texas Legislature must be more of a team player in reducing traffic deaths by immediately creating a Texas Traffic Safety Commission (similar to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission). I believe TxDOT needs to create a new position for a passionate and motivated Safety Chief along with a whole new Safety Division. Although the Texas Legislature and TxDOT are highly involved in traffic safety, the ultimate result of reducing traffic fatalities, and therefore the reduction of suffering Texas families, is not getting done. Texas needs to improve all safety efforts on a more aggressive timeline to save lives. As the adults in the room, you, me, all TxDOT employees and management, legislators, construction/engineering companies, other safety advocates, or public safety officers, we all owe our next generation better. We owe Texans a non-deadly roadway system immediately.
As a State, we can continue to operate, like your predecessors, with a business-as-usual mentality, where statistically ten traffic deaths every day is normal, expected, acceptable, and the funerals, mourning, and suffering of Texas families are placed out-of-mind … OR … we can seize the opportunity to embrace national strategies like Vision Zero and Towards Zero Death that are already in place to reduce traffic deaths year-over-year. Please, speak up if you notice a practice or policy that is unsafe or submit a change recommendation through proper channels. Every day, every hour, envision that next crash, that next fatality and stop it. Be aware and act.
You and I have an opportunity to be a leader, within TxDOT or within the Texas roadway transportation system in general, who is responsible in helping Texas achieve less than 3,000 annual roadway deaths, a monumental life-saving result not seen on Texas roadways in 58 years (1963). Of course, our goal is ZERO, as one death is one too many.
We have the opportunity to create a transformational change within TxDOT, and the Texas roadway transportation system as a whole, that re-energizes a Safety Culture and a Safe Systems Approach where all TxDOT employees and all stakeholders take a serious look in the mirror. Everything we do should strive to prevent the next traffic crash and therefore prevents property damage, injuries, or death.
To all TxDOT employees and other stakeholders, there are rare opportunities in a person’s career that can have such a large impact on the quality-of-life of so many people, so many fellow Texans, as the opportunity that presents itself today. I encourage all of you to seize the moment. Give to the next generation a legacy of reducing traffic deaths year-over-year that was not given to you, your family, or your friends. Be bold. Be courageous. Step out of your comfort zones. Be the leader that is responsible for the beginning of a downward and continuous irreversible trend in Texas traffic deaths regardless of economic swings, demographics, or vehicle-miles-traveled.
Together we hold the key. Please, help turn the key for a culture of traffic safety. Step through the doorway of courage and out-of-the-box thinking, and your families, colleagues, and the People of Texas will be forever grateful.
Again, I thank you for your time. Best wishes and safe travels. Most importantly, let’s act today to save lives on Texas roadways.
For Texas legislators, please consider endorsing and/or sponsoring the legislative recommendations that are listed on the The Solution/Agenda page of the Vision Zero South Texas website at VisionZeroSouthTexas.com. Thank you.
Lance D. Hamm
CDR, USNR (Ret.)
Citizen Traffic Safety Advocate
Vision Zero South Texas