Here's another look at the massive traffic jam that took place during the Rita evacuation, focusing on households that left with more than one car.
Although no statistical data is available yet on the massive evacuation, "there were certainly more vehicles utilized than were necessary to carry these individuals out of town," said Janelle Gbur of the Texas Department of Transportation office here.
"It probably shouldn't surprise us. For many people a car is the second-biggest investment in the household," Gbur said.
Mayor Bill White said he repeatedly asked that people with space in their vehicles take other riders along. He and County Judge Robert Eckels also did what they could to provide mass transit on Metropolitan Transit Authority buses or Amtrak train lines, he said.
"I doubt whether the government can or should tell people or mandate how many vehicles can get out," White said, "but we do need to educate people and ask that they be considerate to their neighbors."
Eckels said he and other officials will study how many vehicles it takes before a route becomes congested, and future evacuation plans will be designed with that information.
According to a Houston Chronicle/KHOU-TV Channel 11 poll, almost half of the evacuees said they stayed in caravans of more than one car.
Thirty percent who said they left with three companions or fewer, a group that could have fit into most cars, left in multiple vehicles, the poll found.
Regarding the poll finding that 42 percent of residents evacuated from areas that were not in storm surge zones, White said that was "perfectly reasonable for many people, based on the information known to all of us on Tuesday and Wednesday and well into Thursday.
"We need to have better plans, particularly at the state level, to allow people to have fuel and more exit lanes and better traffic control," he said.
Eckels said he wasn't surprised that 53 percent of the evacuees said they left Thursday, Sept. 22, since traffic became so much worse then, nor that 61 percent said they would evacuate again if a Category 4 hurricane were coming.
"I think people will leave a lot earlier next time, and I think the system will work a lot more smoothly next time," he said.