Jan 17, 2023 - News

Houston's traffic deaths decline slightly in 2022

Fatal crashed in the Houston area, 2022
Data: Crash Records Information System; Chart: Axios Visuals

Traffic deaths in Houston declined slightly last year — but were still higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to preliminary state data.

Driving the news: There were 302 deadly wrecks in Houston in 2022, accounting for 317 deaths, according to data from the Texas Department of Transportation's Crash Records Information System.

  • Across Harris County, there were 537 fatal crashes, accounting for 560 deaths.

Why it matters: Houston has a Vision Zero policy that calls for safer street systems, slower speed limits and redesigning the most dangerous intersections. The goal is to have zero traffic deaths by 2030.

  • Of note: Houston authorities can implement traffic safety measures only on streets the city owns — roads and highways owned by TxDOT are under state control.

By the numbers: Across the city, there were 317 deadly crashes in 2021 (resulting in 332 deaths) 264 in 2020 (275 deaths) and 253 in 2019 (266 deaths) — the year Vision Zero was implemented.

  • Of the 253 deadly wrecks in 2019, 106 were on state-controlled roadways and 147 were on city streets.
  • Of the 302 fatal crashes in 2022, 158 occurred on state roads and 144 were on city streets, showing a slight decrease on city-owned roadways.

Between the lines: The official numbers might fluctuate in the coming weeks as December reports are finalized, but the city is still far from its zero-deaths goal.

What they're saying: "It is illogical not to have a goal to end traffic deaths," said Jay Blazek Crossley, who oversees the nonprofit Farm & City, which pushes for Vision Zero plans across Texas. "In general, our society has willfully ignored the toll. Part of it is simply pulling the blinders off all our eyes and saying, 'No, this really sucks.'"

  • Crossley said a more realistic goal is the pledge implemented by TxDOT, which calls for traffic deaths to be cut in half by 2035 and totally eliminated by 2050.

The other side: Houston's Vision Zero officials declined to comment on the preliminary data.

What we're watching: The city is expected to publish a Vision Zero annual report once the data is finalized, which could come later this year.

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