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Tuesday
September 22nd, 2020

endui programCourtesy photoOklahoma Highway Safety Office

 

Usually when the words “Oklahoma,” “Texas” and “Team” are used in the same sentence, there are upside down university logos involved. This time, the partnership is a matter of life and death.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office has partnered with the Texas Department of Transportation’s Behavioral Traffic Safety Team, to tackle impaired driving in and around Texas County, Okla., and Sherman County, Texas.

“After being contacted by a representative from Texas, we decided to take a closer look at what’s going on in Texas County,” Cody McDonell, communications manager for the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, said. “We realized that a lot of the problems Texas was having may have started in Oklahoma, so we wanted to address that.”

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After a few e-mails and phone calls, a plan was set. A targeted social media campaign was launched in the last week of August around Texas County. The message was simple, let’s ENDUI.

The multi-state high-visibility patrols took place in the evening Friday and Saturday. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Texas Department of Public Safety sent additional units to the Texas/Oklahoma border near Texas County, Okla., and Sherman and Hansford Counties in Texas to look for impaired drivers.

“This partnership with Texas DPS is just another great example of our states working together towards a common goal,” Lieutenant Chris Arnall of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said. “We will have extra troopers in Texas County on Friday and Saturday nights. We will be joined by the Texas County Sheriff’s Office, as well as other local police departments. Texas will have their troopers hitting the roads in and around Sherman County, Texas looking for impaired drivers as well.”

In 2019, there were 23 injury accidents in Texas County, Okla., which resulted in two deaths. Both of those deaths were in alcohol or drug-related crashes.

“100 percent of the traffic fatalities in Texas County last year involved some sort of impairment, and that is simply unacceptable,” said McDonell.

End The Streak

Texas has seen a marked increase in fatality and injury accidents in 2020.

“At only halfway into 2020, there were already six crashes resulting in five fatalities in Sherman County, Texas,” Sonja Gross, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), said. “This nearly matches the six crashes and eight fatalities for all of 2019.”

It’s not just impaired drivers that are a concern in the area, seat belt use is also traditionally low in rural parts of Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, two children were killed in a crash in Texas County earlier this year who were not properly restrained.

“It’s important for people to pay attention while driving, but to also make sure they’re buckled up and have their kids properly restrained,” Lt. Arnall said.

The partnership between Oklahoma and Texas is rooted in a common goal; to save lives.

“Our goal at TxDOT is to bring that number down to zero as part of our #EndTheStreakTX campaign; educating drivers on the importance of making good decisions, like not drinking and driving,” Gross said.

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