On the night of March 18, 2018, a 49-year-old woman named Elaine Herzberg was struck by one of Uber's autonomous cars in Tempe, Arizona. Elaine was walking her bicycle across the street when she was struck by the car and died as a result of this incident. This is believed to be the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving vehicles.
While most were celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays, friends and loved ones of two local cyclists were mourning their deaths.
Hit-and-run crashes continue to plague our community. Local news organizations have recently reported two such incidents.
A recent study by Rice University's Kinder Institute found that intersections with stop lights are nine times more likely to have a fatal crash with pedestrians and bicyclists than those without stop lights. The study was prompted by the death of Rice University Professor Marjorie Corcoran who was hit and killed by a METRO light rail train near the Houston Medical Center in February. During the study, researchers examined records of all traffic crashes within the city of Houston from January 2010 to September 2016. Throughout this six-year period, there were 3,952 intersection-related automobile accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists. Of those accidents, 90 resulted in a fatality, 1,802 resulted in an injury, and 2,060 were no-injury crashes. From 2012 to 2015, researchers noted a 42 percent increase in intersection-related collisions in Houston.
As the first day of school approaches for many schools across the country, pedestrian, bicyclists, and traffic congestion will dramatically increase in school zones. Due to this increase in traffic, it is essential for drivers to stay alert during peak commuting hours on school roads. Although drivers should always be vigilant for adult pedestrians, they should pay special attention for children pedestrians and bicyclists, as they are at a higher risk for injury.
Houston has become increasingly dangerous for cyclists. According to the Houston Chronicle, at least 23 cyclists have been killed in the past 5 years by motorists. This number does not include the scores who have been injured by automobiles.
The South by Southwest Music Festival brings thousands to the Texas capital every March. People get together to celebrate music, the arts, and film. Known as SXSW, this annual festival started in 1987 and has grown exponentially every year since its inception 27 years ago.
Two recent incidents in Houston have shined a spotlight on an increasing danger faced by pedestrians and bicyclists everywhere: distracted drivers. On Monday, a teenage girl in north Houston was left in serious condition when she was hit by a vehicle while crossing the street in front of a middle school. Then, on Tuesday morning, a man was killed when he was hit by a car after getting off a Metro bus and then trying to cross the street. As reported by KHOU, both incidents are still under investigation and decisions are still being made on whether any charges will be pressed against the drivers involved.