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Can traffic lights contribute to auto fatalities?

Earlier this summer, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University in Houston released its report that illustrated how intersections equipped with traffic lights are frequently the setting for fatal accidents.

Both Houston and America as a whole have seen a recent uptick in wrecks involving automobiles and bike riders and pedestrians. According to the Institute's report, the presence of stop lights in intersections increases the likelihood of fatal collisions by nine times.

The author of the report, entitled "Dangerous Crossings: The Relationship Between Intersections and Crashes in Houston," identified patterns between events and objects in the analysis of Houston's developmental impact on vehicular crashes that involve cyclists and pedestrians.

When compared to four-ways with the traffic lights, intersections unimpeded by any controls had only one-half the fatal incidents than random chance allowed. Those with stop signs had nearly one and one-half as many.

What makes traffic light-protected intersections fatality zones?

The structure of the intersections and their nearness to rail and bus stops affect the crash likelihood. Complex intersections, with more than three points of vehicular entry, had higher rates of deadly wrecks.

But major thoroughfares such as Richmond Avenue, Bellaire Boulevard and Westheimer Road all have widely spaced intersections with signals interspersed by junctures without signals. The disparity appears to increase the number of fatalities for jaywalking pedestrians.

Could more traffic lights reduce pedestrian deaths?

The researcher hypothesized that additional crosswalks for pedestrians and signaled intersections at shorter intervals could reduce risks. Other suggestions included simplifying traffic patterns where the intersections were complex and relocating transit stops to the middle of the blocks.

If you lost a loved one in an automobile-pedestrian/cyclist accident, you might be able to pursue wrongful death litigation against all liable drivers or entities.

Source: Newsroom America, "Rice News Release: Traffic-light-controlled intersections in Houston attract fatal accidents," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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Brian Jensen

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