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Speed kills

Good long read from the Chron about our dangerous roads and highways. There’s too much to cover here, so I just want to focus on the why we all speed so much.

Houston drivers likely speed, at least in part, because they believe no one with authority is paying attention.

A Chronicle analysis of municipal court data shows that Houston-area law enforcement’s largest agencies are deploying fewer officers for road enforcement and ticketing fewer drivers, even as fatalities increased in the past two years and the area grows in population.

Houston police officers ticketed 41 percent fewer drivers in 2017 than they did in 2012, even as the number of vehicle miles traveled in Houston grew 23 percent.

That reflects a national trend of less traffic enforcement, according to Hersman, the former chairwoman of the NTSB. Federal statistics show that the share of people coming into contact with police through a traffic stop dropped about 11 percentage points from 2002 to 2011.

“We certainly understand what law enforcement is being asked to do and what they deal with, but the reality is fatalities are going up on our roadways,” Hersman said. “What we are seeing nationwide is law enforcement is not doing traffic enforcement.”

Harris County sheriff’s deputies, for example, issued 28 percent fewer speeding tickets in 2017 than they did in 2015, even though the county gained 100,000 people during that period. Houston police officers issued 16 percent fewer speeding tickets in 2017 than in 2015. Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers operating within the greater Houston region are the exception; they issued 11 percent more tickets for speeding than they did in 2015.

I mostly travel on I-10 these days, and I do see (usually unmarked) patrol cars on the shoulders, and occasionally a pulled-over vehicle getting cited. But this is the exception, and there’s nothing quite like the joy of being tailgated when you’re already doing over 70 on a road with a speed limit of 60. I don’t have any solutions to offer here – we could reduce speeding and the mayhem that accompanies it with higher levels of patrol, but of course that’s going to require more patrol officers, and that’s not in the cards. I just miss working in a part of town where I didn’t have to take highways to get to the office.

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5 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Speed lights work in slowing drivers down, but don’t expect to see any of them here anytime soon.

    https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix-traffic/2017/02/03/phoenix-speed-photo-cams-driver-wears-monkey-mask-racks-up-37-tickets/97447212/

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    There are fewer tickets written because it’s harder and harder to speed. The freeways are choked most of the day. Drivers physically CAN’T speed, because most of the day Houston’s freeways are just one big parking lot.

    Manny,

    If you thought the grass roots opposition to red light cameras was something, just try putting in speed cameras.

  3. Andrew Lynch says:

    red light cameras and speed cameras are awful and Houston voters rejected this idea.

    As population grows, the highway speed limits in Houston will be meaningless because of the constant traffic.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Hey Manny,

    Guess who wants to legislate banning red light cameras statewide?

    https://www.click2houston.com/news/gov-abbott-calls-for-removal-of-red-light-cameras-in-latest-re-election-push

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill, I will bite, I already knew that about the Trump lap dog wanting that.

    If you bothered to read, I wrote don’t expect to see them anytime soon.

    Besides guns don’t kill, speeding doesn’t kill, alcohol does not kill, stupid ignorant people kill.

    Wonder why we started putting warning on cigarettes and taxing them higher. Tobacco does not kill either. As to people who don’t smoke and have to smell they can get up and leave. Those drunk speeders don’t just kill themselves.

    Wonder why they make me wear a seat belt?

    I really don’t know what planets you all came from, there are times when one could easily go over 100 mph in the freeways. It ain’t always rush hour aliens.