HOUSTON – As Houstonians, Texans and Americans across the country take to the roads to reach Thanksgiving holiday destinations this week, the City of Houston paused on Sunday, November 20 to participate in World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
The candlelight vigil in front of City Hall honored those who have been killed in traffic crashes. Each year, that number reaches an estimated 1.35 million people worldwide. The event served as a reminder for all drivers to slow down, follow traffic laws, eliminate distractions, share the road and watch for pedestrians, bicycles and all road travelers.
The remembrance event correlates with the goals of the Vision Zero program and further demonstrates the City’s efforts to prioritize safety on our roadways. Event guests and participants were invited to take the Vision Zero pledge, and learned more about Vision Zero Houston’s commitment to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030 in our city.
The vigil brought together families of crash victims, street and traffic safety organizations, community members, elected officials, and advocates to: Remember, Support, and Act. City of Houston Poet Laureate Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean recited an original poem, “Memory,” in honor of those we have lost.
This year’s World Day of Remembrance takes on extra urgency as the number of people dying and severely injured in preventable traffic crashes in the U.S. is rising at an alarming rate. In Houston, 331 people died on our roads in 2021, and 1,624 people were seriously injured. That means that nearly one person died and nearly five people were seriously injured every single day in Houston.
Through the Vision Zero Program, the City of Houston is designing and building roadways, sidewalks, and bikeways and setting policies to ensure safe mobility for all.
“Our team works every day with this singular focus: stop death and serious injuries on our roads,” said Planning and Development Department Director Margaret Wallace Brown. “We focus on our highest injury streets, known as our High Injury Network, in Socially Vulnerable Communities like the Mayor’s Complete Communities, and on our most vulnerable travelers, as traffic violence impacts these people and places most often.»
“The factors that lead to death on our roads are simple to articulate: distracted drivers, impaired drivers, speeding drivers and all of the above. Pedestrians represented 32% of those deaths, and 41% of them were Hispanic” Wallace Brown said. “Those numbers are devastating, but we are working to change Houston’s transportation paradigm. Because no loss of life is acceptable.”
In 2021, Citywide safety improvements included:
- 29 miles of sidewalks
- 819 new accessible curb ramps
- 42 miles of bikeways
- 7 Capital Improvement Projects included multimodal safety improvements.
Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Martin, District E, spoke on behalf of Mayor Sylvester Turner.
“I want to express our sincere condolences to all who have lost loved ones on our roadways. It’s truly something that no one should ever have to experience, but unfortunately it is a reality for way too many Houstonians. The City of Houston has committed to change this reality by bringing in resources, programs, partnerships and most importantly funding to build safe streets for all.”
- The City was awarded $20 million from the United States Department of Transportation to rebuild Telephone Road and we’ve applied for $30 million for Bissonnet Streets — both are streets on the High Injury Network.
- Safety improvements that align with Vision Zero are currently in planning, design or construction at 10 locations in the High Injury Network. These improvements may include street design elements that enhance the safety and accessibility for people walking, using a mobility aid, biking, and taking transit.