As a resident of Houston, Texas, a hectic driving environment has surrounded you for as long as you’ve lived here. The city shows up in almost all of the “Top Cities With Worst Traffic” lists, most often toward the top. According to a March 2015 article published by The Houston Chronicle, drivers in the region waste 85 hours per year—more than three and a half days—plodding along the highways and streets of Houston. With the current gas prices, that can add up very quickly.
For a number of years, the car accident statistics were improving for Houston, but the improvement seemed short lived after the cause was revealed. The decrease in car accidents was directly related to the decrease in people driving. Houston residents were driving less because they were unemployed and didn’t have anywhere they needed to go daily.
Photo-Enforced Red Lights
Treating traffic lights more as suggestions than mandates has been a normal trend in Houston, but then the controversial photo-enforced red lights came to fruition. Between 2006-2010, more than fifty high-risk intersections in Houston were monitored by the disputed camera systems. In those four years, 4,100 accidents were recorded, and an estimated $10 million came annually in revenue for the Houston Police Department.
After a referendum in November 2010, the cameras were removed. Those behind the camera program were obviously hesitant towards the removal. They hesitance appears to be justified. As soon as the cameras were taken out of commission, car accidents more than doubled. There were more than 9,000 car crashes at these 50 intersections in the following four years. Not only did the number of accidents increase, but also their severity. The city’s percentage of fatal accidents increased 30 percent over the next four years.
Even though texting and driving is not technically illegal for the vast majority of drivers in Houston, Texas, there are some specific rules you should be made aware of:
- Hand-held phone use is illegal in school zones.
- All phone use is illegal for bus drivers and drivers who are under 18.
- All offenses are primary. (This means a law enforcement officer may issue a citation at any time for this violation of the law.)
- Data of phone use can be collected if it is needed after a car accident.
The consequences for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) are taken very seriously in Houston, and can even involve jail time. DUI is used when a driver under 21 has a detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. DWI is when an adult over 21 has a blood alcohol level over .08 percent. The state uses blood alcohol concentration to measure whether or not a driver is considered under the influence or not. If the driver is under 21 years old, any amount of alcohol in the system is considered illegal, and the consequences could be severe. Depending on the officer and city, a minor could be charged with either a DUI or a DWI.
Aggressive drivers are dangerous and can provoke other drivers to anger as well. To maintain a defensive attitude while behind the wheel in the Houston traffic, remember some of these tips:
- Maintain a calm demeanor. Don’t let your emotions go unchecked. Leave your frustrations from the day at the office. Don’t take them out on other drivers.
- Leave time in your commute for delays. Plan ahead. If you aren’t going to be late, there’s no room to be frustrated with other drivers.
- Don’t tailgate. Keep space between your car and the cars around you. No one likes a tailgater. It will not get you anywhere faster. It will just annoy the person in front of you. It’s also very dangerous.
- Avoid bad drivers. We know what bad drivers look like. If someone is swerving unnecessarily, not keeping a consistent speed, or not obeying other rules of the road, simply stay behind them or pass them quickly.
- Look for the bigger perspective. Everyone on the road has somewhere to be. That’s why they are on the road. Yelling and honking will only heighten their irritation and
- Eliminate distractions. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing someone else on their phone. Don’t give other drivers the opportunity to be frustrated with you. Plus, it’s very dangerous and illegal for some drivers.
- Avoid eye contact with other drivers. This one may seem strange, but evidence shows that people who struggle with road rage are looking for someone to fight with. If they can’t get your attention, they will move on.
At The Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C., our experienced lawyers will fight for your case with passion and confidence. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Houston, Texas or any of the surrounding areas, you aren’t necessarily responsible for all of the medical bills or lost wages. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we don’t get paid unless you do. You have nothing to lose by asking the questions that are floating around in your head. If you or a loved one has been affected by a car accident in Houston, Texas, do not hesitate to call.