Pedestrian accidents are rising quickly in Houston. The rate of pedestrian accidents was 31 percent higher in 2016 than in 2015, reports the Houston Police Department.
Why are pedestrian accidents on the rise in Houston?
There is no clear consensus on the reason for the increase in pedestrian accidents in Houston. Houston Police Department Sgt. Derrick Hall said it has been “really hard for us to explain why.”
Some suggest the increased numbers are due to seniors who rely on walking to travel and millennials who may prefer to walk.
Others cite poor design across Houston as a contributing factor in the spike. Many in Houston agree that adding more sidewalks and crosswalks, narrowing lanes, and discouraging speeding will reduce the numbers of pedestrian accidents.
Some blame pedestrians for their accidents, while others say the poorly designed infrastructure is to blame. Long stretches of roadway (oftentimes a quarter-mile or more) with no crosswalks gives pedestrians little option but to cross the street outside crosswalks as safely as they can.
Distraction is also likely a factor. Drivers who are talking or texting while driving, fiddling with navigation apps, or changing the radio station may not notice a pedestrian in the road or in a crosswalk until it is too late.
How dangerous is Houston for pedestrians?
An article in the Times Union claims that Houston streets are twice as dangerous for pedestrians as the streets of New York City.
What’s more, Smart Growth America ranked Houston as number 15 on its 2016 list of the 20 most dangerous metro areas for walking in the United States. Minorities and the elderly make up a disproportionately high number of the pedestrians hit and killed by cars. The State of Texas has the ninth highest number of annual pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 population.
Where are the pedestrian accidents happening in Houston?
The fatal pedestrian accidents in the Houston metro area in 2015 happened all across the region. This map from the Houston Chronicle shows the locations of pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrian fatalities occurred in Downtown, Midtown, Hedwig Village, Gulfton, Spring Valley Village, Northeast Houston, and many other sites throughout the Houston metro area.
How can I avoid a pedestrian accident while walking in Houston?
While drivers have a responsibility to drive safely and always watch for pedestrians, you are the only person who can guarantee your safety. Remember the following tips each time you take a walk around the city:
- Never cross outside of a crosswalk. Only cross when you have the right of way. Always look both ways before crossing, even when you have the right of way.
- Never assume a driver sees you or will stop for you. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing.
- Remain focused at all times. Do not listen to music with both headphones in and avoid texting and walking.
- Avoid walking while intoxicated.
- If walking at night, wear bright colors.
- Always walk on sidewalks. If none are available, walk against traffic.
For more information on pedestrian safety, the Houston Police Department provides pedestrian safety brochures in six different languages on its website.
Everyone will have to work together to decrease the number of pedestrian fatalities in Houston. Urban planners, advocates, drivers, and pedestrians must all be a part of changing this dangerous situation. Until then, accident rates are likely to keep rising.
If you were hit by a car or truck while walking, The Law Offices of Hilda L. Sibrian, P.C. can help. We will evaluate your claim and explain your options. Call us today at 713-863-1515 today to set up your free, no-obligation consultation.