(NEXSTAR) — For years, you’ve seen them along the many highways in the Lone Star State: signs reading “Drive Friendly – the Texas Way.” Have you ever wondered what the story is behind them?
The signs — and slogan — became official in June 1973 after then Gov. Dolph Briscoe approved its adoption, according to a Texas House of Representatives resolution from that time. Though the Texas Department of Transportation told Nexstar some information related to the signs is currently unavailable due to being digitized from paper copies, the resolution at least gives insight into where the saying originated from.
“The slogan ‘Drive Friendly,’ first developed by the Governor’s Committee on Traffic Safety, has become widely known, not only in Texas but also in other states… and [it] is accepted by the public as the slogan for the traffic safety program of the State of Texas.”
Briscoe was a key figure in much state highway legislation, including one of his most recognized achievements, the Colson-Briscoe farm-to-market road system, which led to the creation of these roadways connecting rural areas to bigger highways.
And though the implementation of “Drive Friendly” signs isn’t to his credit alone, the signs remain a visible reminder of Briscoe’s impact on Texas roadways.
Many Texans, however, are skeptical of the signs.
One tweet jokes: “Crossing over into Texas from Oklahoma there’s a sign that says ‘Drive friendly- the Texas way’ which is funny because Texas drivers will literally murder you and your family if it means they can move one car length ahead in traffic.”
The thought is echoed by another user, saying: “I love the irony of the Texas welcome sign… like Texans aren’t the most aggressive drivers in the country.”
All joking aside, it appears the well-intentioned signs may only be doing so much.
Texas led the nation in the number of traffic fatalities for two years running (2020 and 2021), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All-in-all, the NHTSA reports there were 3,874 estimated traffic fatalities in Texas in 2020 and 4,573 in 2021. Only California’s numbers even come close to the same range.
As reported by the Texas Department of Transportation, 2021 was Texas’ second-deadliest year on the roads. The deadliest year was 1981 when 4,701 fatalities occurred. Roadway deaths in 2021 were 15% higher than in 2020, according to TxDOT.
Recent numbers from INRIX, a data and analytics firm specializing in transportation, show Texans are also spending tons of time behind the wheel in traffic delays. The firm’s Global Traffic Scorecard showed drivers lost hundreds of hours per year in traffic, including Houston (74 hours), Dallas (56 hours) and Austin (53 hours).
Since 2003, the average amount of yearly traffic deaths in Texas has hovered in the mid-3,000 range, according to TxDOT.