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Houston’s Increase in Pedestrian Accidents Highlights Importance of Crosswalk Safety

pedestrian accident in a street crosswalk

Houston has a tragic problem: pedestrian accidents are rising at an alarming rate. In 2022 alone, the city saw over 200 pedestrian deaths and hundreds more seriously injured in traffic incidents. These aren’t mere statistics – they represent lives lost, families shattered, and a growing crisis for our community.

While the causes of this increase are complex, one crucial aspect stands out: the need to revitalize our understanding and respect for crosswalks.

Recent Statistics

  • The “Be Safe. Drive Smart” campaign by TxDOT cites 209 pedestrian deaths and 390 serious injuries in Houston within 2022 alone.
  • In Texas, there has been a 30% increase in pedestrian traffic fatalities from 2018 to 2022.
TxDOT Be Safe Drive Smart Campaign Banner

Long-Term Trends

TxDOT data indicates an upward trend in pedestrian and bicyclist deaths across Texas between 2018-2022.  Houston’s Vision Zero plan acknowledges the increasing severity of the issue.

"I think everyone here knows of a city street in their neighborhood where cars speed down. For decades it's been happening. We need to find the funding to make change."
- Rober Grobe, Third Ward advocate

Why the Increase?

Several factors likely contribute to the rise in pedestrian accidents in Houston:

  • Urban Growth & Density: Houston’s population is expanding, leading to more cars and pedestrians sharing the roads.
  • Infrastructure Issues: Some areas lack adequate sidewalks, crosswalks, or safe lighting, increasing risks.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers and pedestrians distracted by technology pose a serious hazard.
  • Speeding and Aggressive Driving: Reckless driving behaviors endanger pedestrians.

Important Note: Even seemingly minor accidents can have devastating consequences for pedestrians due to their vulnerability compared to those in vehicles.

Why Crosswalks Matter

Crosswalks are designed as protected zones for pedestrians to safely cross busy roads. They exist for a reason:

  • Visibility: Crosswalk markings and signage alert drivers to pedestrian presence, increasing the likelihood they will slow down and yield.
  • Predictability: Crosswalks establish designated crossing points, reducing confusion for both drivers and those on foot.
  • Legal Right-of-Way: In Texas, drivers are legally obligated to yield to pedestrians within marked crosswalks.

Houston's Crosswalk Problem

Sadly, many factors contribute to crosswalks being unsafe in Houston:

  • Distracted Driving: Drivers engrossed in their phones are less likely to notice crosswalks and pedestrians.
  • Speeding and Reckless Behavior: Drivers exceeding speed limits or disregarding traffic signals pose a direct threat to those crossing.
  • Infrastructure Issues: Some areas lack well-marked crosswalks, adequate lighting, or pedestrian-friendly street design.
  • Pedestrian Habits: Pedestrians may also contribute to accidents by crossing outside of designated areas or not paying adequate attention to oncoming traffic.

What Can Be Done

Improving pedestrian safety in Houston requires a multi-pronged approach:

Protecting Yourself at Crosswalks

While systemic changes are vital, here’s what you can do as a pedestrian:

  • Only Cross at Designated Areas: Use marked crosswalks or intersections with signals.
  • Make Eye Contact: Ensure drivers see you before entering the crosswalk.
  • Look Left, Right, then Left Again: Check for traffic even if you have the right-of-way.
  • Stay Alert: Remove headphones and avoid phone distractions while crossing.

Houston: A Safe City for All

The rising pedestrian death toll is a stain on our city. By understanding the problem, promoting crosswalk safety, and demanding change, we can work towards a Houston where everyone feels safe navigating our streets, whether on foot or behind the wheel.

Let’s all commit to making Houston a city where pedestrians are prioritized and protected.

Injured? Call Attorney Javier Marcos

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