Safe Clear reduces wrecks

So says a study commissioned by the city.

Houston’s mandatory towing program has continued to reduce crashes on the city’s freeways, according to a city-commissioned study released Monday.

The study examined the effect of the Safe Clear program from 2005 through 2008. It found there were 120 fewer accidents per month, on average, compared to the baseline year of 2004. The program began in January 2005.


The new study could not discern if crashes declined because wreckers were no longer racing each other to a scene or because rubbernecking was reduced.

But the study did take into account other influences on the crash rate, such as rainy days, gas prices and the amount of traffic.

“It makes the program look exceptionally effective,” said Bob Stein, a Rice University professor who co-authored the study with Tim Lomax of the A&M Texas Transportation Institute. (Stein’s wife works for the White administration as a City Council agenda director.)

The study showed a correlation between Safe Clear response times and the number of monthly accidents. The faster towing trucks responded to a call, the fewer accidents on the freeway. For every minute decrease in response time, monthly collisions dropped by 80 on all Houston highways, Stein said.

I don’t have any trouble believing that SafeClear has been effective. Hell, just not seeing thirty-seven wreckers at every fender bender on the Loop makes it a win in my book. I have to ask, though, was there no one else available to do this study? Stein’s a fine political scientist, but his last traffic-related effort wasn’t so hot. I hope this one at least is a bit less controversial.

UPDATE: Here’s the Rice press release on the study, with charts. Thanks to Joe White for finding this.

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2 Responses to Safe Clear reduces wrecks

  1. Joe White says:

    Would it kill the Chronicle to provide a link to the actual study?

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