Interstate 45 is not just the most dangerous highway in Houston, but the most dangerous highway in Texas. As a result, freeways see a disproportionate amount of traffic. Congestion is one of the primary reasons I-45 is so hazardous.
Highway accidents are among the most complicated cases our Houston personal injury attorneys handle from a medical and legal standpoint. Medically, high-speed collisions, especially if a large truck is involved, usually cause catastrophic or fatal injuries. Legally, these accidents often involve evidence issues and vicarious liability issues. On the most dangerous highway in Houston, car accidents can be catastrophic.
Once again, truck wrecks are a good example. Since these collisions often involve fires, there might be little physical evidence. Additionally, the shipping, transportation, or other company that owned the truck and/or the cargo may be financially responsible for damages under the respondeat superior rule.
Safety Issues on the Gulf Freeway
Driver error causes over 95 percent of vehicle collisions in Texas. On the Gulf Freeway, the most common kinds of errors are related to:
- Traffic Volume: We mentioned congestion above. All of us have been stuck in traffic and become angry. Anger affects our reactions. Additionally, heavy traffic limits visibility.
- Distraction: Texas law only bans texting and driving. It’s legal to use cell phones for surfing the web, taking pictures, and doing anything else. It’s also permitted to use hands-free devices, even for texting. Contrary to popular myth, hands-free devices are almost as distracting as hand-held gadgets.
- Alcohol Impairment: Pretty much everyone knows the dangers of drunk driving. Yet almost half of Americans admit they drink and drive. Beginning with the first sip, alcohol impairs motor skills. This substance also gives people an artificial sense of euphoria, so they often make bad choices behind the wheel.
- Speeding: Excessive velocity increases the risk of a wreck. At 60mph, a passenger vehicle travels about eighteen car lengths between the time a driver applies the brakes and the moment the car stops. Speed also multiplies the force in a collision between two objects, according to Newton’s Second Law.
We would add fatigued driving to this list. Drowsy driving is especially a problem in truck accidents. Since 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has rolled back some key HOS (hours of service) regulations. Therefore, many truckers feel empowered to spend dangerous time on the road.
Interstate 45 by Sections
These hazards apply on every stretch of the Gulf Freeway, from Conroe to Galveston Island in the south. But the dangers on I-45 vary according to the specific location.
By north I-45, we mean the stretch between Conroe and the Sam Houston Parkway between Aldine and Westfield.
Traffic congestion isn’t as bad on this part of I-45, especially north of Spring. But that’s not necessarily a good thing. The lower traffic volume usually means higher vehicle speeds. Speed, especially when combined with alcohol or distraction, is often devastating.
Although this part of Greater Houston is by no means rural, it’s still relatively populated compared to areas further south. A smaller population usually means a smaller medical infrastructure. The closest capable trauma center might not be very close.
Seconds count after a wreck. The extra few minutes it takes to arrive at a hospital could mean the victim’s injuries are much more challenging to treat. Drunk driving wrecks are a good example. Smaller towns usually have higher drunk driving fatality rates than large towns, primarily because of the lack of emergency trauma centers.
Distance also increases medical bills. Even for a brief flight, a helicopter medevac could cost over $40,000. That figure might be almost as high as the hospital bill.
We define Sam Houston Beltway to Sam Houston Beltway as central Interstate 45. Excessive speed is rarely on the Gulf Freeway. Heavy traffic congestion makes speeding impossible. Cars that recklessly zip in and out of traffic are the most significant exception.
This driving behavior brings up the problem of road rage. We mentioned Sir Isaac Newton and his physical laws above. Another one is that for every action, there is a reaction. That’s not just a physical law. It’s also an emotional law. Everyone reacts alarmingly when something unsettling happens, like being cut off in traffic. Some people cannot control these reactions.
Almost 10 percent of Americans have a form of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. People with IED cannot control negative emotions, mostly anger. They explode over relatively minor offenses, like being cut off in traffic.
In civil court, road rage crashes occasionally rise to the level of assaults or other intentional torts. Financial compensation is available in these cases, but they are somewhat more complex than negligence claims. That’s especially true if respondeat superior vicarious liability is an issue.
South Interstate 45 is the stretch between the Sam Houston Beltway and the Gulf of Mexico. So, hopefully, you’ll apply the brakes before you fall into the water.
This stretch of I-45 is almost as straight and flat as your computer screen. Such roadway design effectively moves traffic from Point A to Point B. But this design also encourages dangerous driving.
With no curves or hills to negotiate, many drivers use their devices even more heavily than otherwise. Additionally, long and straight roads are hazardous for fatigued drivers, usually because of highway hypnosis. Finally, this road design encourages excessive speed since it is straightaway.
Be very careful when you drive on any part of the Gulf Freeway. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.