Thursday, June 15, 2017


Flying objects from motor vehicles have killed two Houston motorists on I-10 and I-45 in less than a week

Houston, we have a problem, and the police don’t seem to be doing anything about it. Every day you can see pickup trucks and flatbed trucks hauling stacks of loads that are obviously not properly tied down. You can also see the occasional 18-wheeler carrying an unsafe load.

Unsafe vehicle equipment and loads can be deadly! And it’s not just a Houston problem, it’s a nationwide problem!

On Saturday around 10 a.m., a 69-year-old woman driver was killed on I-10 when a tow hitch ball came crashing through the windshield of her Ford Explorer. Luckily her husband, a passenger, was able to steer the vehicle safely to the side of the freeway.

Less than a week earlier, a wheel came off a vehicle on I-45 and crashed through the windshield of a car, killing the driver.

Years ago the California Highway Patrol (CHP) funded a study to determine the leading causes of traffic fatalities. The study found that following too closely and unsafe loads, followed by speeding, were the leading causes of traffic fatalities. As a result, CHP and other police agencies in the state began writing a lot of citations for those violations.

There is good reason to suspect that the results of the CHP funded study are a nationwide problem.

Of course, all of that was before smart phones and texting, but I am sure that following too closely and unsafe loads are still major problems on Texas freeways and other roadways. So what are the Houston area police doing about it? Apparently little, if anything.

We’re only talking about two fatalities here. But there is no telling about how many non-fatal accidents have been caused when cars have been struck by objects flying from other vehicles.

When was the last time you saw a police officer checking the load of a pickup or flatbed truck that he had pulled over? When was the last time you saw a cop checking the load of an 18-wheeler he pulled over? I’ve lived in Houston since 1970 and I cannot recall seeing any police officers doing that during my travels within Houston and to-and-from Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, El Paso or wherever.

The unfortunate deaths from the tow hitch ball and the wheel should be a wake-up call. But if we as individuals contact the Houston, Pasadena, Baytown, League City, Galveston, etc. police departments, or for that matter any police agency across the country, they will tell us politely that they’ll do something about it, when in fact they probably won’t do anything at all.

Maybe the police will do something to make drivers safer if we contact our mayor and city council reps. But don’t hold your breath waiting for any police action against cars following too closely and unsafe vehicle loads. The police spokespersons will tell their mayors and city council members that they are short on manpower and can’t keep up with property crimes and crimes against persons as it is.

Houston, we have a problem! Instead of dealing with the unsafe vehicle equipment and load violations, the police will ask for more manpower and better pay. And it's also that way across the country.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can only speak for the League City PD that has had a commercial vehicle enforcement section for the last 10 years. They watch for these types of violations daily and we receive calls from them regularly to assist in identifying vehicles suspected of being stolen.