Every week Houston is faced with a situation where commuting traffic is backed up for hours. While the causes of the delay can vary, one factor that is a major contributor is that of commercial vehicle accidents. When a big rig crashes or rolls over the aftermath and cleanup can take hours. If fuel is discharged on the roadway crews have to be dispatched and special care given to clean up the accident site. Fuel spills can be extremely dangerous on the highway because the spill acts like ice for unsuspecting motorists.
Whether the commercial truck has struck another vehicle or whether it is a one truck accident, the cost to the community aside from personal injury or wrongful death can not be easily measured. Sure we can value the cleanup effort by simply adding up the man-hours and assigning a rate and also adding the cost of repair to the roadway or instrumentalities if applicable. Unfortunately, it is the intangible damages to the community that cannot easily be accounted for. How many times have you been in traffic in Houston for what seemed like hours on a trip that should have taken minutes.
Each week we hear about an 18 wheeler that rolled over or crashed into a bridge and see headline such as “snarled traffic” or “traffic delay” and find out that a commercial truck driver crashed a big rig and it affected Houstonians coming to work or going home from work for hours. Part of the blame needs to be placed upon our community for failing to keep up with the explosive growth that we have experienced in the last 20 years. While our population has bloomed, road construction has not even come close to keeping pace with the population growth. The resulting traffic congestion is a factor in many of these accidents and and much of the delays.
Anyone who traveled on Interstate 10, 15 years ago will recall the unbelievable traffic problem the interstate faced east or west bound. Fortunately, Interstate 10 was expanded and traffic is much less congested than it was some years before the construction. Today, Interstate 45, Interstate 59 and US 290 have all clearly demonstrated the need for substantial improvement and expansion. The new Grand Parkway will serve to alleviate some of this traffic but it is a drop in the bucket to what the Houston community needs.
Commercial truck drivers are subject to rules and regulations that apply to professional drivers and require that the truck itself be in safe operating condition at all times it is on the roadway. There are limitations on the number of hours a truck driver can drive and how much time the truck driver must take off to job before resuming behind the wheel. Nevertheless, we still face a record number of large truck wrecks in the Houston area that continue to back up traffic in our community for miles.
Call your state representative and let them know you support infrastructure spending for Houston as an emergency item.