It seems like all around us lately there has been loss.

In our area, there has been the loss of Hayden Blalock, a senior at the high school; Reed Anderson, an 8-year-old from Jefferson; Zackary Enoch Freeman, 21, from Gary, that died in a car wreck in Panola County and Tiffany Thompson, 19, that died in a wreck on Brad Spann Road.

While loss is hard in any circumstance, the deaths of the young are particularly hard, especially to the families.

As some may know, I moved here from the DFW metroplex, and one of the towns I previously covered has a consolidated school district called Community ISD, for the communities of Lavon, Copeville, Josephine and Nevada. This week that high school lost four students, one of them Jordan Kidd, 17, who was the son of a firefighter/paramedic and a dispatcher that are my friends. Four students … gone, like that. The communities surrounding the area are grieving, much like our communities, over the loss of these young lives. Colors have been worn across the state, vigils held, prayers said and though that doesn’t bring the students back perhaps it provides a measure of comfort to their families and friends.

Recently, TxDOT launched the End The Streak Texas campaign, an effort to prevent deaths on Texas roadways. Let me stop here and go on the record to say I am in no way blaming any of the victims, or their families, for their deaths. Fatality accidents each have their own unique set of circumstances and are called accidents for a reason. I offer comfort, and prayers, to all those who are suffering from these losses.

TxDOT launched the campaign because since Nov. 7, 2000, there has not been a single day that someone didn’t lose their life on Texas roadways. Almost 67,000 people have been killed on Texas roads in the last 19 years. And in 2018 alone, 3,647 people lost their lives on Texas roadways.

The leading causes of fatalities are Texas motorists’ failure to stay in one lane, speeding, driver inattention, and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

With the invention of cell phones and other technology, driving isn’t something to take lightly. It never has been, but now driver attention is something even more important. Defensive driving saves lives.

“We all have the power to end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Laura Ryan said. “And while we are committed to invest in the best engineering practices to make our roads safe, we also need drivers and passengers to act more responsibly and help us end the streak of daily deaths on our roads to reach our goal of zero deaths by 2050.”

As we continue to drive on Texas roadways, I urge all area drivers to do one thing that a Texas DPS once showed me. He has an index card folded in half that has ‘THINK’ written on one side. On the other, he has written down the names of those who would be impacted if he was in a traffic accident. That index card sits visible to him on his sun visor in his car everyday.

Perhaps this card will make each of us think about the actions we take while behind the wheel of a car. The potential loss is too great for each of us, myself included, not to make a change.

— Wyndi Veigel is the editor of The Marshall News Messenger and can be reached via email at wveigel@marshallnewsmessenger.com .