Houston’s Drivers and Roads Are Deadliest in U.S.—a Dozen Die Every Week

by Terry Bryant

The numbers are simply staggering.  Every year, on average, 640 people are killed in crashes on Houston-area highways and roadways, several years of statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration show. That breaks down to approximately 12 traffic fatalities every single week. Nearly 3,000 more people are seriously injured. While Houston trails New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago in population, these fatality figures put the city squarely in first place among the country’s 12 largest metropolitan areas when it comes to traffic deaths, according to a Houston Chronicle analysis of NHTSA data. Dallas, the third largest city in Texas, unenviably claims the No. 2 spot for traffic deaths and injuries nationwide. The complete list of most lethal cities for driving—in descending order—is shown here:

  1. Houston
  2. Dallas
  3. Phoenix
  4. Miami
  5. Philadelphia
  6. Atlanta
  7. Chicago
  8. Los Angeles
  9. San Francisco
  10. New York
  11. Washington D.C.
  12. Boston

What Is Causing the Carnage?

What are the factors at work in Houston that are causing this unnecessary carnage? Speeding, alcohol, drugs, texting, and other distracted driving behaviors and various combinations of all of these things can and do contribute to deaths and injuries. Roadways that are not conducive to safety, and even a nonchalant attitude by drivers about their own poor behaviors behind the wheel, contribute to Houston-area injuries and deaths.

Major highways in the Houston area are designed for traveling at very fast speeds—and drivers regularly exceed even the already high posted speed limits. An example is the Grand Parkway, which loops around the Houston area. Data by Houston TranStar, a partnership of government agencies that monitors local traffic conditions, shows that drivers on the Grand Parkway routinely travel well above posted speed limits. In one part of the parkway, the speed limit is 70 mph, but the average speed of drivers was 80 mph during most days in 2017. Where the speed limit increases to 75 mph farther west along the parkway, driver speeds also increase—to 85 mph on average. At those high speeds, the risk of losing control of a vehicle increases exponentially.

Roadways in Houston, like in many big cities, have been designed and built with motor vehicles in mind, which means the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists is often compromised. A lack of sidewalks and bike lanes forces pedestrians and bikes into streets, greatly compromising their safety.

Another contributor to unsafe driving in the city is that many Houston drivers don’t feel any motivation to slow down, stop texting, or give pedestrians and bicyclists a wider berth, because there are no negative consequences when it comes to their poor driving behaviors. Unfortunately, many driving violations in Houston go unpunished by law enforcement, so drivers continue to practice their bad driving habits.

You should know, though, that if you have been a victim of a bad driver or a poor roadway design, you do not need to suffer in silence. The experienced attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law are available to help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at 1 (800) 444-5000 or contact us through our online form.