Female Announcer: Every day, millions of you hit the highways dodging wet roads, distracted drivers, and dangerous conditions, sometimes, of course that lead to accidents. But on some highways, the wrecks are more frequent and more deadly. Tonight, Local 2’s Owen Conflenti takes a look at five years’ worth of crash data to reveal Houston’s most dangerous highway hot spots.
Conflenti: 610, the South Loop at Main Street, the area is a hot spot for major accidents in Houston.
Driver 1: Driving with their knees, putting makeup on, on their phone, whatever.
Driver 2: You’ve got bumper cars out there.
Conflenti: There have also been at least five deadly crashes in the area since 2007.
Driver 3: It doesn’t surprise me at all. The traffic is really horrible here.
Conflenti: So how do we make areas like this safer?
Attorney Guss: At the risk of using a cliché, knowledge is power.
Conflenti: Personal injury lawyer, Stewart Guss and his team collected five years of public data on car accidents. They created a map of when and where the accidents happen to try to answer the bigger question of why.
Attorney Guss: If we as a community can get together and look at the data spread out over the city, then maybe we as a community can start making some decisions and coming up with some ideas about how to make the roads safer for all of us.
Conflenti: The map is interactive. Select the year, the severity of the wreck, and click around to find the hot spots – places like 59, the East Tex Freeway at FM-1960 in Humble, the beltway at Fairmont Parkway near Pasadena, or 59 the Southwest Freeway near the West Park Toll Way in Houston, all hot spots for crashes. The information does reinforce things we already know about accidents. Speeding, alcohol and drug use cause the most deadly wrecks. Distracted driving is a huge cause for crashes in general. But the dots on the map don’t explain everything. Take this busy highway interchange, 45, the North Freeway at 610 the North Loop, heavily traveled, many accidents. But just a mile up the road here at 45 and Crosstimers is an area with less traffic, but there are more deadly accidents.
Attorney Guss: And that’s one of the things that just got me started thinking: Why? What’s different about those areas and why don’t we have those fatalities at the major intersections like you might logically expect?
Conflenti: We met Guss at the intersection of I-10 East and Highway 146, outside Baytown, an area that has seen more than 400 crashes since 2007.
Attorney Guss: The recovery from the injuries, the difficulty taking care of household chores, the hassles dealing with getting your car fixed, and I’m sick and tired of seeing that quite frankly.
Conflenti: But the numbers at I-10 and 146 have gotten better over the years. Guss wants to know if there’s a lesson we can apply to other so-called hot spots, and that’s the overall goal of the map.
Attorney Guss: And we’re going to have car accidents. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to cut that number in half. But what if we could cut it down by 10% or 20%? We can make a real impact in people’s lives and in the economic wellbeing of our community.
Conflenti: And it starts with you clicking around for yourself. Look at your own commute. Talk to fellow drivers and start brainstorming the next bright idea that will make Houston highways for all of us. Owen Conflenti, KPRC Local 2.
Female Announcer: You can see the entire map with all of the crash data on our website at Click2Houston.com so you can check out your commute. All you have to do is log on to our website and look under the hot button.