Last month, the family of a deceased California man filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Tesla when the vehicle's self-driving systems failed to detect a concrete median, causing the vehicle to accelerate into the barrier. This incident is just one of many cases involving victims injured due to self-driving or "autonomous vehicles."
After last year's Houston Chronicle investigation, "Out of Control," local law enforcements have responded with the establishment of a regional task force to better patrol the roads. The article identified that "more than 600 motorists, passengers and pedestrians die every year in traffic collisions often caused by drivers who are speeding, driving while intoxicated or distracted and often on poorly designed roads", ranking Houston roads among the nation's deadliest. The article also criticized local law enforcements for their lack of a comprehensive strategy to lower the number of traffic accidents, and even lowering the number of enforcements in certain regions where fatal accidents rose. However, Harris County Sherriff Ed Gonzales is hopeful that the creation of the new task group which aims to crack down on traffic violations and unsafe drivers will help keep the roads safer for Houstonians. Sherriff Ed Gonzales stated that "we want to make sure we're visible and not just performing spot enforcement, and make it more sustainable."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more people are killed in motor vehicle accidents due to faulty tires than in accidents caused by distracted driving. The NHTSA reports that 738 people died in 2017 from accidents caused by tire-related issues. Compare that to deaths caused by cellphone-related accidents, which has never exceeded 500 people for any year the NHTSA has collected such data. The NHTSA recommends having your tires checked annually. Clearly, ensuring that the tires on our vehicles are in good condition is something we should all take the time to do.
A $10 million lawsuit was filed against the city of Tempe, Arizona after a woman was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle. The suit states that the Arizona suburb created a dangerous situation by installing a brick pathway across the median where people were not allowed to cross the road. Essentially, city officials paved a walkway for jaywalkers. The suit seeks $5 million in damages each for the surviving husband and daughter of the 49-year-old woman killed in the collision. While the city's spokesperson could not comment directly on the case, she has stated that the suburb has since landscaped the median in place of the walkway.
Recently, a local task force was formed in response to a 2017 article in the Houston Chronicle which found that Houston is home to the nation's most dangerous roads. According to the article, more than 600 motorists, passengers, and pedestrians are killed every year in traffic collisions. The majority of these fatal accidents involved driver inattention, driving while intoxicated, and speeding. The Chronicle's investigation found that a lack of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue may be partly to blame. In response, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez called for the formation of a regional task force to better patrol roads. The task force was designed to crack down on traffic violations and unsafe driving practices, with the goal of promoting safe driving and reducing the number of serious motor vehicle accidents that occur on Houston area roads each year.
According to preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council, approximately 4.7 million people were seriously injured and 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2017. These estimates are only slightly lower than figures from 2016. For nearly 100 hundred years, the National Safety Council has collected fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia as well as the National Center for Health Statistics to ensure that deaths occurring on both private and public roadways are included in their estimates. The National Safety Council also tracks fatality trends. According to National Safety Council officials, an improved economy along with distracted driving, speeding, and failing to wear a seat belt are key factors impacting motor vehicle fatality trends each year. The National Safety Council's numbers differ from the official federal figures which will be released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) later this year. Unlike the National Safety Council, NHTSA's figures do not include fatalities on private roadways such as parking lots and driveways.
Two motorcyclists were victimized in two separate hit-and-run crashes Sunday. One victim was killed, and the other, a Harris County Sheriff's Deputy, was injured. These are just the latest in a disturbing trend of hit-and-run collisions in Houston.
Seven years ago, Alexis Flores was 15 years old and a sophomore at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School in Pharr, Texas, participating in the student athletic trainer program and playing third base on the high school's softball team. On September 9, 2010, her supervising trainer asked her to board a two-seater golf cart with himself and another student and drove toward the football field to set up water and equipment for a junior varsity football game. He took a sharp left turn, and Flores was ejected from the cart onto her right knee, tearing her ACL and shattering her dreams of playing softball again that spring.
It's no secret that Houston roads can be hazardous. Making matters worse is the fact that Houston roads are becoming more congested as the population swells. With this increasing congestion comes an increase in crash rates. A recent report from the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) examined data regarding traffic crashes in the region over a five year period.
This was a deadly weekend on area roadways. At least four people died in vehicle-related incidents. And, recent media reports indicate that more than forty drivers were charged in March with felony dwi.