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Study: Getting stopped cars off freeways prevents moving cars from hitting them


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Report Shows SafeClear Tow Program Continues to Cut Freeway Crashes

A new study of the City of Houston’s SafeClear incident management tow program shows that it continues to have an impact on reducing freeway crashes in the city, saving drivers millions of dollars in collision costs and helping reduce freeway congestion.

The report, conducted by researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University and at Rice University, shows that Safe Clear cuts approximately 120 collisions per month, saving the driving public more than $4 million each month in associated costs. The report also shows that the program is meeting most of its established goals. In 2008, the report says, 89.8% of tows were responded to within the goal of six minutes, just shy of its 90 % goal.

“When we look across the country there is nobody that’s doing a better job at getting to stalled vehicles and cutting crashes,” said Dr. Tim Lomax, with the Texas Transportation Institute, one of the principal researchers on the SafeClear project, which was launched in 2005.

“We’ve worked hard to make this program the success that it is, saving people money and time.” said Mayor Bill White.

A copy of the report is attached. It can also be viewed online at http://www.houstontx.gov/safeclear/ .

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There are always people against everything. I think with the population sizes we have today it's just a mathematical certainty. There were people against building the Astrodome. Heck, there was a huge movement among artists and intellectuals against the Eiffel Tower.

You're right, though -- I remember there being a very vocal minority against the Safe Tow program. I don't remember what their argument was, but in hindsight it must have been pretty stupid.

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There are always people against everything. I think with the population sizes we have today it's just a mathematical certainty. There were people against building the Astrodome. Heck, there was a huge movement among artists and intellectuals against the Eiffel Tower.

You're right, though -- I remember there being a very vocal minority against the Safe Tow program. I don't remember what their argument was, but in hindsight it must have been pretty stupid.

The argument was, as always, "That's going to cost money! Oh Em Gee, where are we going to get all that money?!"

These are the same people who hoard their entire life savings under their mattresses, never spend a dime of it in their lifetimes and then leave it all to their cat when they die. I'm not implying they're mentally unbalanced, but... yeah, that's exactly what I'm implying.

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The argument was, as always, "That's going to cost money! Oh Em Gee, where are we going to get all that money?!"

These are the same people who hoard their entire life savings under their mattresses, never spend a dime of it in their lifetimes and then leave it all to their cat when they die. I'm not implying they're mentally unbalanced, but... yeah, that's exactly what I'm implying.

So because I plan on giving the money under my mattress to my dog, am I mentally unstable or no? does my mental stability change if I don't have a dog?

Seriously though, I think the biggest uproar was that there were two options, a) you pay to get your vehicle towed B) you get a ticket when the police arrive.

The responsible side of me says, well, the driver of their vehicle should keep their car properly maintained so that they don't have an overheating issue, or severe lockup of their engine, or whatever, if you don't keep your car maintained, you should be ready to pay whatever costs are associated. But no matter how well you maintain your vehicle, random stuff on the road happens, and ends up breaking things.

If I remember correctly, the charge for moving the vehicles was waved and is now paid by all taxpayers? Which I am ok with, I just think it was a shitty deal to say, oh yeah, in addition to having to get a new tire because someone left their ladder on the freeway, you have to pay for a tow also!

Granted, it does make me mad that I have to pay taxes to help someone who doesn't do maintenance on his car and that is the reason they are on the side of the road, but I suppose if you look at the dollars that come out of my pocket for those specific drivers, it is minuscule.

That and death is too severe a penalty for poor vehicle maintenance...

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I think the argument at the time was more about stalled cars on the side of the road - the shoulder. Say someone got a flat and pulled to the shoulder. I think most thought that they should be able to change the tire instead of getting towed. Im not sure of this is the case currently though.

Personally, I think one should be allowed to change their flat tire instead of getting towed. Again... I've not had this experience but it seems fair.

Now if the car breaks down in the middle of the road... then tow them away.

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I think the impetus was more about cars stalled in traffic lanes than on the shoulder. Back when I paid attention to traffic reports in Houston I seem to recall it happening all the time, and I never really understood why. With the cars I've had once you get them moving, you were pretty much OK until you turned them off again.

The reason the stalled vehicle thing sticks in my mind is because particular Houston traffic reporter got in trouble when one of those stalled vehicles was a taco wagon and he called it a "roach coach" on air. His boss accused him of being a racist and wanted him fired. It didn't happen simply because she didn't have that power.

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I'm just happy to not have a Tow Truck 500 on the freeway every time a break down occurs

Oh yeah, I remember the tow truck lottery. Glad those days are gone.

I for one am not going to change a tire on the freeway shoulder. ohmy.gif I'd be happy to pay for a tow to the nearest parking lot where I could safely change it. A short tow like this is less expensive and safer for all freeway rollers.

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Oh yeah, I remember the tow truck lottery. Glad those days are gone.

I for one am not going to change a tire on the freeway shoulder. ohmy.gif I'd be happy to pay for a tow to the nearest parking lot where I could safely change it. A short tow like this is less expensive and safer for all freeway rollers.

I believe some (if not all) tow truck drivers charge a minimum of $150 to lower your vehicle once it's been lifted off the ground. From then on it gets more expensive.

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I believe some (if not all) tow truck drivers charge a minimum of $150 to lower your vehicle once it's been lifted off the ground. From then on it gets more expensive.

It was $110 when I lived in Houston (-2003). I know this because I used to have people towed out of my private parking space several times a week.

But I think under the Safe Clear program, drivers aren't charged for the tow, as someone mentioned earlier.

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From the city of Houston site:

<LI class=content>Any motorist who stalls or experiences a flat tire who is not in a moving lane of traffic has the option of receiving a free tow to a destination of their choice within one mile of the nearest exit. If the motorist believes he or she has run out of gas, the destination can be the nearest gas station, even if it is beyond a mile after the nearest exit. If the motorist has a flat tire and a good spare, the tire will be changed for free, as well, if the motorist wants. <LI class=content>If a tow results from a police investigation, i.e. accident or arrest, or if the vehicle has been abandoned, the tow fee will be the city rate, currently $143.50.

Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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I am willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of the crashes which occur on freeways involving stopped vehicles is due to DRUNK DRIVING. A greater effort needs to be made on that side of the equation. I don't know what the answer is. Perhaps stiffer consequences rather than the slap on the wrist that many offenders end up getting.

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Regarding opposition, I think some of the opposition came from car owners who didn't want their cars hoisted up by any type of tow truck that rolled up. Many car manuals today specify flatbed towing only. While it might be ok to have the car hoisted and towed for a short length, some people are just that anal about their cars.

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