Houston is known for being one of the most dangerous places to drive in Texas. With an average of 640 people dying on Houston-area roads each year, it makes the region by far the deadliest in the country to drive in. The Houston Chronicle recently analyzed fatal car accidents to identify any common factors causing these tragedies. The results turned out to be devastating, as car crash victims died from accidents caused by distracted driving, commuter traffic complications, collisions with tow trucks, and more. The locations of these fatal car accidents were indiscriminate, as crashes occurred on city streets, highways, small country roads, and the greater Houston-area’s hundreds of miles of parkways. Houston’s mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced a collaborative plan aimed at eliminating local traffic deaths by 2030. The difficult part will be implementing the plan within such a tight timeline.
The Vision Zero Action Plan aims to eliminate traffic deaths in Houston by 2030. In this plan, Mayor Turner explains the need to improve safety for drivers as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit systems. Many portions of the program are already underway, but the plan itself expands on the actions required by city planners, public works, police departments, fire departments, and others. Fatal car accidents have not decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as hundred of Houstonians have died on the roads this year, and the city is currently on pace to have its deadliest year on record according to the Texas Department of Transportation. What makes Houston such a dangerous city to drive in?
The following are common reasons why Houston has a high fatal car accident rate:
- Houston roads are designed for speed.
Over the years, Houston has attempted to alleviate the amount of traffic that can get jammed up at various highway interchanges and exits. Most major roads and freeways in Houston are designed to keep traffic flowing quickly and maximize speeds whenever possible. Many highways have speed limits that are 70 mph or higher. These high speed limits combined with the amount of traffic on the road can quickly lead to fatal car accidents in Houston.
- Commute distances keep drivers on the road for longer.
The greater Houston area has a population of over six million people. Many choose to live outside the inner loop and often have commutes that may be up to an hour both to and from work. Commutes can be very boring and drivers can easily get distracted while just trying to drive to and from work. The high population coupled with how long the average commuter is on the road increase the likelihood of a fatal car accident.
- Law enforcement agencies are not enforcing the speed limit.
Over the last three years, the number of speeding tickets issued in the Houston area has dropped significantly. All Houston drivers know that speed limits mean very little when they are not enforced, as many Houston drivers routinely drive 10 to 20 miles over the speed limit. With drivers going faster and law enforcement doing little to stop them, car accidents have become deadlier with higher energy collisions taking the lives of Houstonians all over the city.
- Pedestrians and cyclists have little to no room to safely travel.
Houston is not the most pedestrian or cyclist-friendly city. With over 6,200 miles of roadways but only an estimated 3,000 miles of sidewalks and 300 miles of bike lanes, cyclists and pedestrians have to find ways to maneuver through Houston traffic safely to stay alive. When pedestrians and cyclists have nowhere to go but the road, fatal accidents will occur.
- Aggressive tow truck drivers are out of control.
After a car accident happens, it is not uncommon to see four to five tow trucks speeding through traffic to get the scene of the accident first. Many tow trucks drive carelessly, weaving in and out of traffic, driving in emergency lanes, and speeding unsafely to get to an accident first. They are rarely seen being pulled over by law enforcement or being reprimanded for their reckless driving habits. Many tow trucks have caused serious roadway collisions and increase the chances of a fatal Houston car accident.
Houston’s Vision Zero Action Plan has identified 13 “priority actions” the city is committed to taking to help reduce the number of fatal car accidents in the city. Some of these actions include:
- Building a minimum of 50 miles of sidewalks each year
- Adding a minimum of 25 miles of dedicated bike lanes each year
- Evaluating new road projects for sidewalks, bike trails, and other safety features
- Redesigning locations in the city with the highest number of incidents every two years and making changes as needed the following year
The city’s plan may take time, but our local government is not alone in wanting to end the streak of roadway fatalities in Texas. The Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Texas Department of Transportation have also pledged to reduce or eliminate the number of fatal car accidents in the state. TxDOT has committed $600 million to improving safety on highways and reducing car crashes.
Houston Fatal Car Accident Attorneys
While the city is trying to put an end to fatal car accidents in the Houston area, drivers every day are facing dangerous road conditions. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a Houston car accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Contact the personal injury trial attorneys at Adame Garza for a free consultation today. There is limited time to act following a Texas car accident, so don’t delay.