Houston Matters

Are Houston Roads Trying to Kill Us?

We have far too many fatalities and accidents on Houston’s roads. Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians – everyone has a stake in any efforts to make our roads safer. Now, what if I told you that even safe passage in your car – that run-of-the-mill everyday drive in Houston traffic, without an accident, without an incident…could be hazardous […]

Photo: Michael Hagerty, Houston Public Media

We have far too many fatalities and accidents on Houston’s roads. Drivers, cyclists, pedestrians – everyone has a stake in any efforts to make our roads safer.

Now, what if I told you that even safe passage in your car – that run-of-the-mill everyday drive in Houston traffic, without an accident, without an incident…could be hazardous to your health?

Well, okay, that might be overstating it a bit. Then again — a group of researchers from Texas Southern University were curious about what was going on in our bodies as we traverse Houston’s busy highways. So, they came up with an idea. They began monitoring drivers’ heart rates and stress levels along I-69 at midnight to see if they went up or down based on the type and roughness of the pavement below them, and the noise that pavement made inside the car. In other words, they sought to learn what’s better for our health – driving along noisy or quiet roads, bumpy or smooth roads, concrete or asphalt.

Paige Phelps sought the results from the study’s authors, Kei Kei Li and Fengxiang Qiao. Li is a Ph.D. candidate; Qiao is co-director of the Innovative Transportation Institute at Texas Southern.

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