According to the United States Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 36,560 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents on United States roadways during 2018, marking the second consecutive year that motor vehicle fatalities declined. The decrease in fatal traffic accidents comes even as more people drove in 2018. Of the categories assessed, speeding was the most predominant factor, accounting for 9,378 of the total fatalities. Fatalities decreased in almost all categories with the exception of crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and large trucks. The largest decline was seen in fatal motor vehicle accidents involving children ages fourteen and younger. From 2017 to 2018, pedestrian fatalities increased by three percent to 6,283, representing the most pedestrian deaths since 1990. The number of bicyclist deaths increased by more than six percent from 2017, accounting for 857 of the fatalities reported in 2018. Large-truck occupant deaths increased approximately one percent from 2017. The Texas Department of Transportation also reported a 5.84 percent decline in fatal motor vehicle accidents from 2017 to 2018. However, there were no fatality-free days on Texas roadways in 2018.
While most were celebrating Thanksgiving and enjoying the holidays, friends and loved ones of two local cyclists were mourning their deaths.
Huffy has recalled approximately 500 of its bicycles, model year 2014 Huffy TR 745 and TR-S 740, because of a hazardous defect. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the front disc brakes unexpectedly stop the front wheel and could cause the entire wheel to detach from the bicycle. These bikes could have been purchased at Walmart.com, Sears Puerto Rico, and The Northwest Company (Cost U Less) from September 2014 through May 2015. Huffy encourages consumers not to buy the product although no reports of injury have been made.
Houston has continued its attempt to innovate in the area of urban living. Begun last year, the city hosted the final Sunday Streets of the season this past week on May 17. The route ran along Navigation in Houston's East End. Prior Sunday Streets have been in Houston's Montrose and Heights neighborhoods. For each Sunday Streets, the streets are shut down for four hours for pedestrians and cyclists.
Houston has already enacted a city ordinance ordering vehicles to maintain a certain distance from cyclists when driving behind or passing them on the road. Now California has enacted a similar statewide law. The California "Three Feet for Safety Act" requires drivers of motor vehicles to do exactly what you would expect which is to stay at least 3 feet away from cyclists when driving behind or attempting to pass a bicyclist on a California road. If the road or traffic does not allow for a three-foot safety barrier, the driver must slow to a speed that is reasonable and/or prudent. The old state law had similar language although it did not specify a distance to maintain or use the terms reasonable or prudent to describe the necessary speed reduction.
Family members are painfully mourning the death of an 8-year-old boy. He was riding on his bike yesterday when he was struck by a pickup truck that was traveling at a high rate of speed. Law enforcement officers detected the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the driver, and he was arrested at the scene.
With summer just around the corner, many Houstonians will be taking to the streets on their bicycles in search of recreational fun or sport. With this increased number of cyclists comes the increased risk of injury. According to a study by the Transportation for America, in 2013, Houston ranked ninth out of the top ten most dangerous cites in the United States for bicycle riders.