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At least one person has been killed on a Texas road every day for the past 13 years.

The Texas Department of Transportation sent out a press release to mark the solemn date. Nov. 7, 2000, was Texas' last fatality free day.

Since then, more than 45,000 people have been killed on Texas roads.

Here's a breakdown of the data:

  • 13,544 alcohol-related fatalities have been recorded since Nov. 7, 2000
  • 2,719 fatalities have been caused by distracted driving since Jan. 1, 2008
  • 5,469 unrestrained vehicle occupants have been killed since Jan. 1, 2008

The agency recommends drivers sober up, buckle up, drive the speed limit and put away their cellphones.

While at the Advocate for a little more than a year, I've written about many accidents, some of them fatal.

Most recently, I was working a 1-10 p.m. shift when a 21-year-old wrecked on the Guadalupe River Bridge on U.S. Highway 77.

The next day, I was asked to call family and friends. I navigated to his Facebook page where he listed Casa Ole as his employer. Maybe someone there would be willing to say some words, I thought.

As the hours rolled by, I was overwhelmed by phone calls, text messages and emails from people whose lives had been touched by this young man.

Sometimes, it's hard for me to feel sad for someone I have never met. I think that is because I am bombarded with sad stories and images on an almost daily basis.

However, as I talked to these people more and more, I felt connected to this young man and sorry for the friends and family who would miss him. As I walked to my car after I turned in the story to my editor, I fretted over whether my words did him any justice. I cried.

A few weeks later, I worked on another story about this man's death and whether the area in which he was driving was dangerous.

Also a month ago, a community rallied behind a doctor who lost the love of his life in a suspected drunken driving crash.

Driving past the sign the doctor's friends posted at the Mockingbird and Main Street intersection reminds me that telling these stories while unpleasant, is important. These accidents don't just involve statistics to be filed away and scrutinized later, they involve people.

I hope that some of the stories I've written about accidents so far have made readers pause and think about the public safety issues in their community as well as come up with some solutions.