Harris County Sees a Major Spike in Pedestrian Fatalities

Harris County Sees a Major Spike in Pedestrian Fatalities

While safety advocates hoped to see a decrease in pedestrian fatalities in Harris County, 2022 has had a rocky start. Pedestrians are being hit and killed almost daily in Houston and across Harris County. Initial data from 2022 shows that if pedestrian accidents continue at the rate of which they are occurring, the number of pedestrian lives lost in the city of Houston this year will quickly surpass the number of lives lost in 2021.

Pedestrian Fatalities in Harris County This Year

In 2019, the city of Houston launched their plan to end roadway fatalities by 2030. Called Vision Zero, this plan to implement safety measures, educate drivers, and improve roadway engineering in hopes of lowering the number of fatal car accidents on Texas roads. But despite its implementation, Houston remains a dangerous place to drive, bike, and walk.

The Houston Chronicle reported that by February 17th of this year, Harris County had already reached 30 pedestrian fatalities, three of which occurred within 24 hours of each other. On average, one pedestrian has been fatally injured in Harris County every 37 hours since the start of 2022.

If pedestrian fatalities continue to occur at the pace they are currently being reported, experts predict that Harris County will see 230 deaths by the end of the year—a stark 41% increase from last year’s already record-breaking high.

2021 Harris County Pedestrian Fatality Statistics

Last year, Harris County reported 163 pedestrian deaths—an all time high for the county, and higher than any other county in the state of Texas. Comparatively, 63 pedestrian deaths were reported in 2012, meaning that despite improved roadways and emerging safety technologies, the pedestrian fatality rate in Harris County has been increasing each year, more than doubling in a ten-year span.

Unfortunately, when it comes to pedestrian safety, not all neighborhoods were created equal. The City of Houston reported that 60% of Houston’s serious and fatal car accidents occur on just 6% of Houston roads, and Houston transportation safety experts discovered that pedestrian deaths were statistically much more likely to occur in lower income areas.

A National Issue

Safety advocates cite a number of causes, including the popularity of large trucks and SUVs, an increase in unsafe driving habits, and a number of other factors that are contributing to the pedestrian safety crisis. Sadly, this crisis is not unique to Harris County. According to the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS), the state of Texas reported 402 pedestrian fatalities in 2010. By 2020, the pedestrian fatality rate had increased by 70%, with 683 pedestrian deaths reported across the Lone Star State.

Additionally, there were 4,383 pedestrian fatalities reported in 2010 nationwide. In 2020, the nation saw 7,005 pedestrian deaths—an increase of almost 60% in ten years. On top of this, 139,979 pedestrians suffered non-fatal injuries nationwide in automobile accidents in 2020.

Steps Towards Change

The city of Houston has committed to working to make roads safer for pedestrians. Prior to launching Vision Zero in 2020, Houston had also established a Walkable Places Committee in 2017. The Committee works to promote walkable places and works to orient new development with accessible transit options in mind. In 2020, Houston’s city council approved the committee’s Walkable Places and Transit Oriented Development plan that works to incentivize applicants to redevelop their sidewalks, building lines, and parking areas to be more pedestrian friendly.

In addition, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently released a national plan to lower the roadway fatality rate. Called the National Roadway Safety Strategy, this plan intends to combat what experts are calling the “road fatality crisis.” The plan includes initiatives encouraging safer driving behaviors, updating roadway design in hopes of making cities more walkable, and reducing speed limits in pedestrian-heavy areas.

Until then, transportation experts fear that the pedestrian safety crisis will continue. With its large population, high speed limits, long commute times, and the widespread popularity of trucks and larger vehicles, Houston residents are especially at risk.

If you or a loved one been involved in a car accident, contact The Callahan Law Firm today. Our Auto Accident Lawyers have been successfully representing injured people and their families for over 25 years, and we can help you too. Give us a call at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.