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Rio Grande Valley traffic fatalities increase, TxDOT data shows

5 months 2 days 17 hours ago Monday, March 14 2022 Mar 14, 2022 March 14, 2022 7:02 AM March 14, 2022 in News - Local

Data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows traffic fatalities in the Valley has increased in the last three years.

Now, officials are urging Valley residents to drive safely during spring break.

Officer Robert Silva works for the highway division of Harlingen Police Department and sees traffic fatalities first-hand. Silva says it’s even more difficult when he comes across crashes in which victims are related to one another, especially if drivers are speeding, distracted or under the influence.

“A lot of it does have family members inside the vehicle and they don’t know what kind of danger they are,” Silva said. “Not only are they putting themselves in danger, but they’re putting the public in danger, as well.”

Through a public records request with TxDOT, Channel 5 News was able to find that fatalities in the Valley increased for the past three years:

  • • 2019 – 69 fatalities
  • • 2020 –  81 fatalities
  • • 2021 –  113 fatalities

The data also shows the number of those crashes that were a result of people driving under the influence.

"We had a lot of fatalities in regards to people drinking," Silva said.

Silva says most reports of drinking and driving happen during holidays, and when most people have time off, including spring break.

One recent incident highlighted the emotional impact these types of accidents have on first responders.

“Recently, we had a child involved," Silva said. "And it’s hard to tell the family – when the family makes it, but not the child. What are you going to tell the family? ‘Yeah, it was an intoxicated driver.’”

Harlingen police and TxDOT say there would be fewer of these types of incidents if more people drove responsibly.

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