Houston is a sprawling metropolis and home to around 4 million people, so just imagine how many residents are also on the roads every day.
From 290 to the Beltway, traffic jams are a normal part of daily life in Houston, and even basic weekend traffic can leave you stuck in your car. With its multi-lane freeways and millions of drivers, it’s not surprising to learn Houston is home to a high number of traffic accidents.
While city leaders are addressing Houston’s growing car accident problem, there are also some steps you can take. Don’t worry; this doesn’t include staying home during a Texans football game or the rodeo.
Tips to Stay Safe on Houston Roads
Try to Avoid Rush Hour
Okay, it can seem like rush hour never ends on some Houston roads, and I-59 is a great example. The freeway is always a mess near downtown; even on the weekends, you can expect to run into traffic. However, there may be a few things you can do to avoid most, if not all, rush hour traffic.
Since rush hour traffic typically runs from 7 to 9 in the morning, have you considered leaving home a little earlier? Even though the thought of getting up earlier is rarely appealing, it’s a good way to avoid morning rush hour traffic.
You may even be able to leave a little closer to 9 a.m., which can give traffic a chance to slow down a little bit. The same tips also apply in the evening between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. when traffic picks up again.
Check the Weather Before Leaving
Houstonians are used to frequent changes in the weather; sometimes, it’s a daily occurrence. The day can start warm and sunny, but by the afternoon, it’s windy, raining, and you now need a jacket.
The weather does more than affect road conditions; it also impacts driving behavior. Speeding vehicles in torrential rain storms are common sights on Houston streets, and unfortunately, so are accidents when the weather is less than ideal.
You can’t miss work every time the weather takes a turn for the worse—however, you can be prepared. Leave home a little early in bad weather to give you plenty of extra time on the roads. Drive slowly, pay attention to other driver’s actions, and always obey all posted speed limits and traffic signs. Sometimes, being a cautious driver is the best way to avoid getting into a vehicle accident.
Find a Shortcut
A shortcut in Houston rarely means taking the feeder roads. Chances are, you’ll find yourself stuck in traffic and dealing with multiple red lights.
However, Houston does have some great shortcuts, especially in and around the downtown area. You can avoid congested streets like San Jacinto and Market Avenue. While your navigational system may be upset by adding a few miles to your daily route, you can ultimately save yourself some time.
Best of all, your shortcut should have less traffic and this can significantly reduce your risk of being in a car wreck.
Pay Attention to Houston’s Event Schedule
Throughout the year Houston hosts numerous events from professional sports games to marathons, the rodeo, and don’t forget the car and boat show. There are also concerts, plays, and museum shows, all bringing residents and visitors out on the roads. Even though the rush hour may have passed, expect crowded streets and highways.
You may not be able to avoid this traffic, but you can create a safe driving plan. You may need to leave your house earlier, especially if you live in unincorporated Harris County. Trying to get downtown during an event can take hours. You may also want to change your normal route.
Event time is a great opportunity to become familiar with a shortcut. Even if your car’s Navi system is determined to send you into traffic, you can grab one of the city’s keymaps. Almost every car dealership in Houston includes a free key map with the purchase of a vehicle.
The red binder is filled with maps that make it easy to find the safest and fastest route to your destination. Houston also has TranStar, and it can be an invaluable tool. The map updates traffic in real time, so you always know which streets and highways to avoid.
Take the Toll Roads
Houston boasts a few toll roads, and you can get from Katy to downtown Houston and out to unincorporated Harris County without driving on the freeway. These include Beltway 8, the Katy toll road, and the Westpark tollway, to name a few. If you keep a ton of spare change in your car, you may not need an EZ pass tag; instead, you can just pay the dollar plus toll at each stop.
However, get an EZ pass if you want to keep zipping along the toll road without stopping every few miles. The process of doing so is simple: apply for an EZ pass sticker, link your bank account, and you don’t have to worry about stopping to pay any tolls. The fees are automatically deducted each month from your linked bank account.
Leave Your Car at Home
If you live in unincorporated Harris County, you may not be able to leave your vehicle at home. The METRO buses only provide service within city limits. However, you can also schedule a ride for Uber or Lyft.
You can find METRO park and ride stations scattered throughout Houston and the metro area. Leave your car in the secure parking lot and let someone else do the driving.
Consider Working From Home
This isn’t an option available for everyone, but if your job allows you to work remotely, consider taking advantage of the opportunity. The best way of avoiding a car accident is to stay off the roads. If you’re working from home, a vehicle collision is one less thing to worry about.
Car Accidents Can Happen to Even Safe Drivers
Despite taking every precaution, car accidents can still occur due to factors beyond your control. In the unfortunate event of sustaining injuries in such an incident, consulting with a personal injury attorney is crucial.
They can provide expert legal guidance and assess whether you have a valid compensation claim, ensuring that your rights are protected and you receive the support you need.