In 2014, 227 people were killed in traffic collisions in Houston. Per capita, that means the city’s streets are more than three times as deadly as New York City’s.
Despite the toll, there’s a culture of acceptance surrounding traffic violence in Houston. Now a group of local advocates are trying to change that.
Houston Tomorrow, a local think tank devoted to urban issues, released a report last week calling for the city to adopt a Vision Zero policy [PDF]. The idea is to bring together various city agencies around the long-term goal of eliminating traffic deaths.
Houston is a city built around driving, but local leaders shouldn’t use that as an excuse to accept the loss of life on the city’s streets, the report authors say. Other car-centric cities — like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Antonio — have embraced Vision Zero strategies and are working toward safer streets in a systemic way.
“We’re trying to make everyone understand that Houston has grown numb to — in the whole region – three people dying every two days,” said Houston Tomorrow’s Jay Crossley. “The news doesn’t report traffic deaths anymore. It’s not even a news item that another family member died today in a car.”
“This is a moral issue. This is people’s family members,” he said. “We know there are things that we could do and we could change policies that could make a difference.”