Mayor: Safe Clear Reduces Freeway Accidents by 20-Percent

A year and a half after it went into effect, Houston's SafeClear freeway towing program continues to reduce the number of accidents on area roadways. That according to Mayor Bill White, who cites new number that show a 20-percent decrease in accidents. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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The numbers compare accident totals for the first four months of 2003 and 2004 to the first four months of this year. The average for those earlier years was 5118 freeway accidents, compared to just over 4000 accidents in the first four months of this year. Mayor White says the fix included common sense.

"We took our cues from traffic experts, traffic reporters and just plain citizens about what we needed to do to get traffic moving on the freeway. We've all experienced rubber-necking. We've all seen what happens when there's an accident in front and then somebody doesn't hit their breaks in time and then there's a back-up. This is just common sense."

The next phase of SafeClear could include the use of heavy-duty wreckers to clear 18-wheeler accidents that sometimes tie-up freeway traffic for hours. Currently, light-duty wreckers are the only ones included in the program. Micheal Berry chairs city council's Transportation Committee.

"Our ability to attack the next phase, the 18-wheelers, I think you're going to see not only the crashes decrease, but now you can start getting into drive-time reductions that are going to be significant and the quality of life improvements are going to be palpable."

There's no word yet on when the heavy-duty wreckers would be added to Safe Clear or what the average response time would be.

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