A Houston Chronicle analysis of 16 years of federal highway data reveals our fair city is the most deadly major metro area in the nation for drivers, passengers and people in their path. An in-depth series titled “Out of Control” reveals some startling facts about the risks we take each time we get into a car — or walk or bike — near a roadway in the Houston area.
According to the report, which compiled data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Houston metro area, which includes Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties, “leads the nation for fatal crashes involving drugs and alcohol… It’s No. 2 for fatal crashes, per capita, on federal highways… [It] ranks second for fatal wrecks that involve speeding and also trails only Dallas in crashes blamed on someone slamming into stopped congestion on the freeway.”
On average, 640 people a year die on Houston-area roads, and 2,850 more are seriously injured. Most of these people are injured while traveling in a vehicle, but a unsettling number of these victims are pedestrians or cyclists.
The Chronicle points out that, “the death toll is the equivalent of three fully-loaded 737s crashing each year at Houston’s airports, killing all aboard. Losing that many planes and passengers would lead to federal hearings, but the Houston roadway deaths are met largely with silence, other than the occasional warning from public safety officials to drive safely and be careful crossing the street.”
Shocking But Not Surprising
Seeing these statistics, and thinking about car crashes compared to airplane crashes is shocking. It really makes you wonder what sort of risks we are all taking as we travel home from work, make a quick trip to the store, or run our kids to their various after-school activities.
Unfortunately, for those of us in the legal profession, the data may be shocking, but it is not surprising. Although we are not out there on the front lines like our city’s brave police officers and EMT’s, we deal with the carnage and the horror every day.
As a firm that focuses on personal injury lawsuits, we represent people who have been involved with car accidents all the time. We know Houston roads are dangerous. You don’t have to tell us that people drive too fast and traffic is bad. We see first hand what happens when someone gets behind the wheel after taking drugs or having a few too many drinks. And don’t get us started on lax enforcement, particularly of distracted driving laws.
It is time to make some changes and make our city’s roads safer. We hope this series of articles in the Chronicle opens people’s eyes to the horrors on our highways. In the meantime, we will keep fighting on behalf of the victims of the accidents. They deserve justice, and we all deserve saver roadways.