HOUSTON — Houston, it’s a concrete jungle.
The city has roads for as far as the eye can see — 14,652 miles in Harris County alone! And oftentimes, rush hour feels like you’re riding the highway to hell. You never know who’s driving next to you, or if they’re even paying attention to the road.
With more than 3 million cars on the streets of Harris County every day and more than 100,000 accidents due to distracted driving in 2017, there are some important road rules to follow.
They’re here to keep you safe and avoid becoming a statistic.
To blink or not to blink? That is the question when driving around H-town.
“I use my signal all the time because people in Houston don’t know how to drive,” driver Mya Billingsley said.
“They’re a wonderful too,” Brian Kessler with the Houston Police Department’s vehicular crimes division said.
It’s tool that many Houston drivers don’t use.
“I don’t understand why you can’t use your signal. It takes like two seconds,” driver Sage Walker said.
Two seconds that keep others safe and from breaking the law.
The Texas Transportation Code states drivers entering a Texas highway or freeway must legally yield to vehicles already driving.
So why is it so hard to use that blinker?
“When you’re driving, you’re also catching up on the phone, you’re texting,” psychologist Sunita Osborn said. “The brain is doing a bunch of things at once, but with each added task, it adds conscience effort and it can increase the chance of error. As well as, decrease the quality of each task, which can lead to things like not using a signal when we turn.”
This type of distracted driving has serious consequences.
“You don’t use that signal, and you just get over, then there you go— you get hit!” Dion Asberry said.
Hit-and-runs happen a lot in this city.
“You’re driving your car [and] somebody side swipes you, nobody is hurt and that car keeps going. Failure to stop and render aid is a higher category where somebody suffers bodily injury. It could be somebody in a car, a pedestrian, a bicyclist,” Kessler said.
They’re often deadly.
Nearly 6,000 hit-and-run accidents reported so far in 2018, seven of which have been fatal. In 2017, 18,000 hit-and-runs with 36 deaths.
So, what do you do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run?
“If you can get off the road, get off the road,” Kessler said. “You don’t want to get hit by any secondary vehicles. Get the best description possible — car, and of the driver, try to get the license plate. If possible, snapping photos and I’d recommend a quick snap of a car with the license plate and a picture of the driver if possible. I recommend that even if they stop, make sure that you get their name and phone number at minimum.”
Of course, there are things you should never do in a hit-and-run incident.
“Don’t chase after people,” Kessler said. “If they’re not flying down the road, just driving 35 mph and don’t know they hit you, you can go pull up next to them. ‘Hey, we were in an accident, pull over.” But if they’re actually running to get away, don’t pursue them and cause another accident or get yourself hurt.
You can easily cause an accident if you don’t know how to properly merge.
“Houston traffic is already bad enough without you not using your signal,” Sydnee Eldridge said.
“Nobody wants to yield, nobody wants to respect the other driver,” Asberry said.
“Yielding” is the way Texas law says drivers entering a Texas highway or freeway must legally yield to vehicles already driving.
So maybe drivers in clusters like the 59 and 610 interchange can learn a few things. You know, those drivers that “cut in line” at the last minute.
“I tend to cool down when people do it in front of me, but at first, it definitely makes me angry,” Walker said.
So, what’s the best way to merge?
“Be courteous,” driver Alexandria Butler said. “Be courteous, use your signal and let someone know, ‘hey I’m coming over!’Make way, don’t be rude, don’t be honking your horn.”
Overall, be mindful when you drive.
“Before you get into your car, take a second to get situated; get your podcast set up, turn the A/C to whatever you want it to be, call that person you need to call.”
Now that you know these H-town road rules, follow them! Let’s make our already jammed-up roads safer for everyone.