Author Archive

Texas Approves $345 Million for Pedestrian and Bike Safety

Pedestrian signal for crossing street in downtown Houston, TX.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently approved $345 million worth of projects, including bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways, designed to make the state safer for everyone and reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in Texas.

“This is a major investment in communities across the state that will help make it safer and easier to get around on foot or a bike,” Texas Transportation Commissioner Robert “Robie” Vaughn said in a statement recently released by TxDOT. “This optionality supports safety, active lifestyles, health and wellness, and can provide alternatives to traveling by vehicle.”

Pedestrian and bicycle projects in Houston, Texas

The $345 million will be spent on 83 projects throughout the state. According to TxDOT officials, “These projects will help improve safety for people walking, biking, or using wheelchairs, including 24 projects that will go in areas with a high pedestrian crash history.”

In the Houston area, such bicycle and pedestrian projects include:

  • Construction of West Loop shared-use path and Bayou Bridge in Harris County, Texas – $18.45 million.
  • Multi-modal path construction in University Asia Town area – $8.87 million.
  • Construction of shared use path in The Woodlands, Texas – $7.47 million.
  • Construction of Emancipation Trail shared use path in La Marque, Texas – $4.5 million.
  • Bicycle lane and sidewalk construction in Angleton, Texas – $4.27 million.
  • Sidewalk construction, traffic signal improvements, and other pedestrian projects in Dickinson, Texas – $2.8 million.
  • Construction of sidewalks and other public safety improvements in Hitchcock, Texas – $2.45 million.
  • Sidewalk improvement project in West Columbia, Texas – $2.26 million.
  • Bicycle transit study in Harris County, Texas – $920,000.
  • Planning study for Improving Safety and Access to White Oak Bayou – $460,000.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle master plan designed to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety in Houston – $368,000.
  • Transportation plan in Clute, Texas – $288,075.

Pedestrian accidents on the rise

One of the driving forces behind these projects is the dramatic increase in the number of pedestrian accidents and fatalities throughout Texas in recent years. Between 2013 and 2022, the number of pedestrian accident deaths in Texas has increased by 72.9 percent, from 480 deaths in 2013 to 830 deaths in 2022, according to accident data collected by TxDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Bicycle accidents are also a problem

Along with pedestrian fatalities, fatal bicycle accidents have increased sharply in the past decade in Texas. Between 2013 and 2022, bicycle accident deaths have increased by a staggering 91.6 percent, from 48 deaths in 2013 to 92 bicycle fatalities in 2022, according to the NHTSA and TxDOT.

“People who walk and bike make up about 1 out of every 5 deaths on roadways here in Texas,” said Texas Transportation Commissioner Alvin New in a recent statement. “These projects will help the state move closer toward the goal of zero deaths by giving people a place to walk and bike separate from traffic.”

Contact a Houston, TX pedestrian accident attorney

An insurance claim involving a cyclist or pedestrian hit by a car might initially seem straightforward. But many times, they become complicated legal cases. That’s because the stakes can be high, and rather than paying injury victims the money they deserve, insurance companies will often do everything they can to reduce or deny injury claims.

Our Houston pedestrian accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler know how to handle insurance companies and can help you every step of the way. We know how to investigate such accidents and what evidence to look for to build a strong legal case. Many insurance companies agree to negotiate in good faith once they see we’re serious about your case. If not, we’re not afraid to file a pedestrian accident lawsuit on your behalf, seeking the compensation you deserve.

Get the law firm that gets results for injured Texans, and schedule a free case evaluation with a Houston pedestrian accident attorney who puts your best interests first. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Texas, including three offices in Houston. We also offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no fees unless we win your case. Contact us today to learn more about your potential legal options.

Texas Launches ‘Survive the Drive’ Campaign Amidst Alarming Spike in Roadway Deaths

Interstate traffic towards Downtown Houston on a sunny day

AAA Texas and the Insurance Council of Texas are launching a campaign called Survive the Drive to combat a troubling trend on Texas roads that has emerged since the COVID-19 pandemic. Before 2020, Texas drivers were heeding warnings about the dangers of reckless driving. However, when the pandemic began, risky driving behaviors such as speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and aggression became more prevalent. As a result, Texas experienced a surge in roadway deaths and serious car accidents.

Roadway deaths spike in Texas

From 2019 to 2022, deaths due to impaired driving increased by over 22%. The Insurance Council of Texas also reported a rise in claims from serious car accidents.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas saw a concerning rise in the fatality rate on its roadways in 2021 alone. That year, the state had 1.58 roadway deaths per hundred million vehicle miles traveled. This marked a 5.45% increase compared to 2020.

The total number of motor vehicle traffic fatalities also increased, with 4,497 recorded in 2021, signifying a significant 15.43% uptick from the 3,896 deaths reported the previous year. Furthermore, 2021 saw 15,769 serious injury crashes in Texas, involving 19,456 individuals who sustained severe injuries.

Contributing factors

According to Rich Johnson, Director of Communications for the Insurance Council of Texas, the increase in population is one contributing factor to the surge in traffic accidents. “We’re getting bigger. We have more people on the roads,” he said in a statement.

Other common factors include:

Safety advocates respond

As a response, Survive the Drive aims to educate Texans about safe driving habits on the road. One important tip is to use rideshares or other transportation alternatives instead of driving impaired. They also advise drivers to put away their phones while driving to minimize texting and other distractions. That can be either in the glovebox, with a passenger, or in the trunk.

The message becomes particularly vital as the days grow shorter during the fall season. Survive the Drive encourages a return to safer, more responsible driving habits to help reverse the trend of increased Texas crashes and fatalities.

Protect your rights if you were injured in a crash

While safety advocates are doing their part to address the growing number of Texas roadway deaths, the problem could persist for years. That’s why it’s important to understand your rights if you or a loved one was hurt in a crash on Texas roads.

The Houston car accident attorneys at Smith & Hassler can be your ally in the pursuit of justice. Our legal team understands the physical, emotional, and financial devastation that you may be going through. We’re committed to holding negligent drivers accountable and fighting to maximize compensation for injured motorists and their families.

To find out how we can help you, contact us online. We would be glad to answer any questions and help you explore your potential legal options during a free consultation.

Houston’s Vision Zero Effort Seeing Mixed Results

Houston, Texas, USA downtown city skyline and highway.

Houston’s Vision Zero report for 2022 indicates a slight decrease in traffic fatalities compared to the previous year, but the reduction is modest, and more work still needs to be done. Despite this decrease, over 320 individuals died on Houston’s roadways in 2022, and nearly 1,600 others suffered severe injuries in traffic-related incidents.

In concrete terms, the report reveals that eight fewer car accident fatalities were recorded in 2022 compared to the previous year, alongside 28 fewer injuries. While these improvements are encouraging, they are a reminder that Houston is still far from achieving the ultimate vision of zero lives lost due to traffic accidents.

Houston’s 2022 Vision Zero report

In 2022, Houston witnessed 323 fatalities due to traffic-related incidents, marking a 2.4% decrease compared to the previous year’s statistics. The death toll includes motorists, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists. The report also revealed that 1,592 people sustained severe injuries while navigating Houston’s roadways throughout the year.

Here are other key takeaways from Houston’s Vision Zero report:

  • There were 115 pedestrian fatalities in 2022, an 8.5% increase compared to 2021
  • 245 pedestrians suffered serious injuries, up 11% from 2021.
  • 37 people died in motorcycle accidents, a 9% increase over 2021.
  • 165 motorcyclists sustained severe injuries, marking an 11% increase.

However, there were positive developments as well, as drivers and passengers witnessed a decline in traffic fatalities and serious injuries last year. These findings are notable, especially considering the 20% increase in traffic fatalities from 2020 to 2021. Encouragingly, the number of people who suffered serious injuries decreased from 1,624 in 2021 to 1,592 in 2022, marking a 1.7% decrease.

‘No loss of life is acceptable’

In response to the Vision Zero report, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner emphasized that “no loss of life is acceptable.” He highlighted concerns regarding the increasing number of cyclist fatalities in 2023, with 12 bicyclists tragically losing their lives.

However, Turner also noted the positive aspect of the overall reduction in fatalities and serious injuries in 2022. During his eight-year tenure as mayor, the city has implemented significant safety measures, including comprehensive street overhauls and the expansion of multimodal transportation options. These efforts take into consideration the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, public transportation users and other alternatives to personal vehicles.

Street safety projects in Houston

The report highlighted the effectiveness of these safety initiatives by spotlighting five specific street safety projects completed since 2019. These projects involved reducing vehicle lanes, expanding sidewalks, and introducing protected bicycle lanes.

The areas that underwent these transformations include:

  • Austin Street between Holman and Commerce streets
  • Bagby Street from Clay to Franklin streets
  • Gray Street between Bagby and Hamilton streets
  • Hillcroft Avenue from High Star to Westward streets
  • McKinney Street between Main and La Branch streets

According to a report by Houston Public Media, all these areas experienced a reduction in crashes, fatalities, and injuries resulting from crashes. Notably, no fatalities were reported among those using protected bike lanes.

More safety enhancements scheduled for Houston

The city’s commitment to enhancing safety and accessibility includes the construction of 6 miles of sidewalks and 20 miles of bikeways in 2022. The city has ambitious plans to add an additional 155 miles of bike lanes in 2023, according to the recent Vision Zero report.

“Houston is committed to Vision Zero and making the city more accessible for people of all modes,” Turner said. “The results speak for themselves – our comprehensive approach of safety and multimodal planning is making Houston a safer city.”

Holding negligent drivers accountable in Houston

For safer roadways in Houston, it’s essential not only to focus on preventive measures but also on accountability. When car accidents occur due to negligent drivers, it’s important for crash victims to seek justice and accountability through the justice system.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Houston car accident involving negligence, Smith & Hassler is here to help. Our Houston car accident lawyers understand the physical, emotional, and financial toll a serious accident can have on crash victims and their loved ones. That’s why our dedicated legal team is committed to protecting your rights and fighting for the compensation you deserve.

To learn more about how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Harris County Leads Texas in Drunk Driving Crashes

A drunk driving concept showing a glass of liquor in the middle of a slick road at night with an SUV in the background.

Every year, countless lives are affected by people who make the reckless decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol. It’s a particularly severe issue in the Houston area. With a staggering number of drunk driving-related car crashes, Harris County has earned a sobering distinction in Texas.

According to a recent report by the Courier of Montgomery County, new data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says Harris County has earned the unfortunate title of having the highest number of drunk driving-related car crashes in the state. In 2022 alone, Harris County recorded over 3,500 crashes involving impaired driving.

Drunk driving in Harris County, TX

The crash statistics are nothing short of sobering: over 115,000 reported car accidents within Harris County in a single year. What’s even more concerning is that out of these incidents, 3,553 crashes were directly attributed to drivers under the influence of alcohol.

One key element in this equation is the county’s remarkable growth and diversity. With a population that surpasses 4.7 million, Harris County is the largest county in Texas and the third-largest in the entire nation. This sheer number of residents introduces a dynamic set of challenges that can influence statistics, including those pertaining to drunk driving crashes.

The interplay between Harris County’s population influx and its drinking culture is a complex one. As people from all walks of life converge on this vibrant county, a diverse range of behaviors, habits, and attitudes towards alcohol come together. This diversity, while contributing to the richness of the community, also means that there is a broad spectrum of attitudes toward responsible alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, a surge in intoxication-related fatalities has been a consequence of this particular social landscape.

Lynn Nguyen, the section chief of the vehicular crimes division at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told the Courier of Montgomery County: “We’re obviously a huge county. I think that’s what drives the numbers every year. And we’re kind of one of those growing counties, where people are coming from all over to live here…and so with the influx of people and the drinking culture that we do have here, that unfortunately means there’s going to be an increase in intoxication-related fatalities.”

Understanding the dangers

Drunk drivers are at risk of causing serious and fatal car accidents because their impaired state hampers their ability to operate a vehicle safely and respond effectively to the dynamic challenges of the road. As a result, not only are drunk drivers themselves in danger, but so are passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and fellow motorists who share the road.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous because it results in:

  • Impaired cognitive function: Alcohol impairs cognitive functions, including attention, judgment, and reaction time. This compromised mental state significantly increases the likelihood of accidents.
  • Reduced motor skills: Alcohol affects motor skills and coordination, making it difficult for drivers to maintain control over their vehicles and respond appropriately to unexpected situations.
  • Decreased inhibition: Intoxication can lead to reckless behavior and a decreased sense of caution, resulting in drivers taking unnecessary risks on the road.
  • Slower reaction times: Impaired drivers have slower reaction times, which can prevent them from effectively avoiding collisions or stopping in time to avoid a collision.
  • Increased likelihood of high-speed collisions: Drunk driving accidents often occur at higher speeds due to impaired judgment, resulting in more forceful collisions and greater damage.
  • Higher severity of injuries: The combination of high speeds and impaired judgment leads to more severe injuries in accidents involving drunk drivers, especially when they drive on the wrong side of the road and crash into other vehicles head-on.

Drunk driving is dangerous and can lead to legal consequences, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. The tragic truth is that these accidents are preventable, underscoring the critical need for responsible choices, increased awareness, and accountability to curb the devastating impact of drunk driving on our roads.

Holding drunk drivers accountable

At Smith & Hassler, our car accident attorneys recognize the seriousness of crashes caused by drunk drivers and the profound impact they can have on victims’ lives. With a deep understanding of the nuances of Texas law and extensive experience in complex cases, we are ready to help you fight for the justice and financial compensation you deserve.

If you were hit by a drunk driver or your loved one died in a crash involving a driver under the influence of alcohol, your path forward starts with us. Contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation. We’re located in Houston, TX, and we look forward to speaking with you about your potential legal case.

Pedestrian Deaths Reach Highest Number in 41 Years

A pedestrian crossing sign behind a blue sky background

A sobering look at a troubling trend

The U.S. has witnessed an alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities in recent years. And according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the number of pedestrian deaths has now soared to levels unseen in the past 41 years.

In 2022 alone, at least 7,508 pedestrians died, marking the highest death toll in four decades. And since 2010, pedestrian fatalities have increased by 77%, well ahead of the 25% increase in other traffic-related deaths.

“Every day, 20 people go for a walk and do not return home,” Jonathan Adkins, chief executive officer of the safety group, said in a statement published by Forbes. “These are people living their daily lives – commuting to and from school and work, picking up groceries, walking the dog, getting some exercise – who died suddenly and violently.”

This rise in serious and fatal pedestrian accidents is primarily attributed to dangerous driving habits, insufficient infrastructure, and the popularity of larger, heavier vehicles like SUVs. The report underscores the urgent need to address the ongoing crisis of pedestrian safety on our roads and highlights the need for injured pedestrians to hold negligent drivers accountable.

Pedestrian accident statistics

The GHSA report, titled “Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State,” presents preliminary data from 2022 and highlights the ongoing increase in pedestrian deaths over the past decade.

It also emphasizes that dangerous driving behaviors that emerged during the pandemic in 2020 have not subsided.

The report provides several insights into pedestrian safety trends from 2010 to 2021, including:

  • Most pedestrian fatalities occur at night, and nighttime deaths have increased in recent years.
  • Due to their taller profile and bigger blind spots, SUVs and light trucks pose a greater risk to pedestrians on a per-vehicle basis. While fatal pedestrian crashes involving passenger cars remain the highest in number due to the sheer quantity of cars, deaths involving SUVs have increased at a much faster rate (120% compared to 26% for passenger cars) in the past decade.
  • The absence of sidewalks continues to be a significant factor in pedestrian fatalities, with 69% of deaths occurring in areas without sidewalks in 2021, showing a steady increase from 59% in 2017.
  • The risk of pedestrian death exponentially increases with higher vehicle speeds, ranging from 10% at 23 mph to 90% at 58 mph. In 2021, 8.1% of pedestrian fatalities involved speeding drivers, slightly lower than the previous year but higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  • Drunk driving is the main contributing factor in 19 percent of pedestrian accident deaths.
  • Non-freeway arterial roads pose the highest risk to pedestrians, accounting for 60% of all fatalities. These roads typically have high traffic volumes, high speeds, and eventually connect to freeways. About 18% of pedestrian deaths occur on freeways, often involving stranded motorists, first responders, and tow truck drivers. The report recommends strengthening and promoting Move Over laws that require drivers to slow down and change lanes when approaching stopped vehicles.

The GHSA report also listed the number of pedestrian fatalities by state from 2019 to 2022. In 2019, there were 661 pedestrian deaths in Texas, which increased to 714 in 2020. In 2021, the number rose further to 826 fatalities. In the most recent data available, the preliminary figures for 2022 show a slight increase to 834 deaths.

Addressing the problem

The report emphasized the importance of addressing dangerous driving behaviors such as speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving through targeted traffic enforcement.

It also highlighted the need to educate new drivers about their responsibility to be aware of and yield to pedestrians and other road users.

Additionally, the GHSA advocated for adopting the Safe System approach to road safety, which originated in Sweden in the 1990s. This approach aims to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries by implementing various layers of protection, including safer road design, safer vehicles, safer speeds, and improved post-crash care.

Claims involving pedestrian accidents can be complicated

Insurance companies often employ various tactics to downplay or deny pedestrian accident claims to minimize their financial liability. Common strategies include:

  • Challenging fault: The insurance company for the at-fault driver may try to shift blame onto the pedestrian by arguing that the pedestrian was distracted, jaywalking, or acting negligently at the time of the accident, thereby reducing or eliminating the insurance company’s responsibility to provide compensation for the victim’s losses.
  • Disputing injury severity: Insurers may claim that the pedestrian’s injuries are less severe than stated or attribute damages to pre-existing conditions.
  • Questioning medical treatment: Insurance companies may raise doubts about the necessity or extent of medical treatments, aiming to reduce the claim amount.
  • Delay tactics: Prolonged investigations and excessive documentation requests can be used to frustrate a claimant and discourage them to the point of accepting a lowball settlement offer or giving up on the claim altogether.

To navigate these complexities and ensure their rights are protected, it is crucial for victims to seek the guidance and representation of a lawyer experienced in pedestrian accident claims. An attorney can help gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, advocate for the pedestrian’s best interests, and pursue the maximum compensation they are entitled to under the law.

Contact Smith & Hassler for a free case evaluation

Our Houston-based law firm is committed to fighting for the compensation injured pedestrians deserve. With decades of experience, we understand what it takes to get meaningful results for accident victims and their families.

If you were hit by a car or a loved one died in a pedestrian accident, we can guide you through the legal process and help you hold the at-fault driver accountable for your losses.

To learn more about how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

Texas Ranked in Top 10 States With Highest Teen Driver Fatality Rate

Driving and texting in car with blue tone

Prioritizing safety is crucial for young motorists.

As we approach the summer season and the subsequent surge of young drivers on the road, it’s crucial to address an alarming issue — the high rate of teen driver fatalities in Texas. In a recent ranking by, Texas emerged as one of the top 10 states in the U.S. with the highest teen driver fatality rates.

Particularly concerning is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a timeframe safety advocates call the “100 Deadliest Days.” In these summer months, when schools are out and teens are behind the wheel more frequently, the risk of serious and fatal car accidents escalates. However, there are other factors driving this deadly surge in teen fatalities.

Teen car accidents in Texas

According to the study, Texas has a rate of 6.17 fatal accidents per 10,000 licensed teen drivers, the 10th most in the nation (New Mexico has the highest teen driver fatality rate at 9.66 while Rhode Island has the lowest at 1.58). The summer months further exacerbate this issue, as 35.2% of the fatalities involving teen drivers in the Lone Star State occur during this period (June to September).

While it’s natural to attribute the rise in teenage accidents to increased summer driving due to school breaks and more leisure time, the true catalyst lies in their driving behavior. Diana Gugliotta, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for AAA Northeast, emphasizes the heightened danger when teens engage in aimless joyriding rather than driving with a specific destination and timeframe in mind.

Another critical risk factor is the number and ages of passengers accompanying the teenage driver. Gugliotta cites research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, revealing a staggering 51% increase in the fatality rate for all individuals when a teen driver has exclusively teen passengers in the vehicle. Conversely, when passengers aged 35 or above ride with a teenage driver, the overall fatality rates in crashes decrease by 8%.

Factors contributing to teen driver fatalities

Speed emerges is the most crucial factor behind fatal car accidents involving teenage drivers. According to the study, speed contributes to 39.3% of fatal accidents involving teen drivers, surpassing the rate of 28.7% for other age groups. Speeding is dangerous for a driver of any age, but when you combine a teen driver’s lack of experience with a smaller margin for error, it can be a recipe for disaster.

The second leading cause is driving under the influence of alcohol, accounting for 31.8% of teen driver fatalities. While this rate is comparatively lower than that of other age groups, it aligns with the limited accessibility to alcohol for drivers under 21. Nevertheless, when teenagers do choose to drive while impaired, they pose a significant danger to themselves and others on the road.

Distracted driving, which includes texting and cell phone use, stands as a distant third, contributing to 9.2% of fatal accidents involving teenage drivers. The desire to stay connected and the temptation to quickly respond to messages or notifications can be incredibly enticing for young drivers. For inexperienced teen drivers who are still developing their skills and judgment on the road, the consequences of distracted driving can be especially severe.

Safe driving tips for teens

To mitigate the risk of fatal accidents involving young drivers, teens should:

  • Obey the speed limit: Speeding remains the leading cause of teen driving fatalities, making it crucial to respect and obey speed limits.
  • Minimize distractions and put the phone away: Teen drivers should avoid distractions such as using cell phones or engaging in conversations that divert their attention from the road.
  • Never drive under the influence: Parents can play a crucial role by offering to drive their teens home at any time if they are intoxicated or otherwise impaired.

Car accident lawyers serving Houston, TX

With summer nearly here, prioritizing accident prevention becomes crucial for both young drivers and motorists of all ages. Equally important is ensuring that drivers and passengers injured in car accidents know their legal rights. If you were injured or a loved one died due to a car accident caused by a young driver — or if you’re the parent of a teen driver injured in an accident that wasn’t their fault — seeking assistance from an experienced car accident attorney can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case. To see how our law firm can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

Texas Drivers Reminded to ‘Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles’

POV of a motorcyclist riding down a highway next to a minivan.

Safety campaign aims to reduce Texas motorcycle accidents

Motorcyclists are a common sight on Texas roads, but riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, with riders exposed to a greater risk of injury or death than those traveling in enclosed vehicles. This is one reason the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has launched a statewide motorcycle safety campaign called “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles.”

The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the dangers faced by motorcycle riders and to encourage drivers to be more cautious and attentive when sharing the road with them. With an average of one rider dying in a motorcycle accident on Texas roads every day, the importance of this campaign cannot be overstated.

Motorcycle accidents in Texas

With a high number of motorcycle collisions resulting in fatalities and serious injuries every year, Texas remains a dangerous place for motorcyclists. TxDOT statistics reveal that in 2021, 519 motorcycle riders lost their lives on Texas roads, with another 2,318 suffering severe injuries.

One of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents is drivers failing to see the motorcycle or misjudging its distance and speed. This is particularly likely to happen at intersections, which are a hotspot for motorcycle collisions.

Distracted driving is another major contributing factor to motorcycle accidents in Texas. Drivers who are texting, talking on the phone, or simply not paying attention to the road are more likely to miss a motorcycle rider sharing the road with them. When they do see the rider, they may not give them enough space or time to maneuver out of danger.

A motorcycle’s small size also means it’s easier for a biker to end up in a driver’s blind spot or be overlooked when a motorist makes a turn or changes lanes. Too many motorists don’t check twice for motorcycles, and the consequences can be deadly. The combination of these factors has made motorcycle safety an ongoing concern for safety advocates in Texas.

TxDOT’s awareness campaign

TxDOT’s “Share the Road: Look Twice for Motorcycles” campaign has been running across the state for several years. At its core, the campaign seeks to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities on Texas roads. Efforts to achieve this include social media campaigns, public service announcements, and educational materials distributed through TxDOT’s website and at local events.

One of the most visible aspects of the campaign is its “Look Twice for Motorcycles” messaging. This slogan is designed to encourage drivers to take an extra moment to check for motorcycles before turning or changing lanes. The campaign also encourages drivers to give motorcycles plenty of room on the road and to avoid distractions that could interfere with their ability to drive safely.

Tips for drivers to share the road with motorcycles

When it comes to sharing the road with motorcyclists, drivers must exercise caution and attentiveness at all times. Intersections, as mentioned above, are a hotbed of activity for motorcycle collisions, with nearly one in three motorcycle fatalities occurring at these locations. To help reduce the risk of a collision, safety experts recommend taking extra care when turning left and allowing motorcycles to pass through the intersection before proceeding.

Other tips for safely sharing the road with motorcycles include:

  • Looking twice when changing lanes
  • Giving motorcyclists plenty of room when passing
  • Maintaining a safe following distance
  • Being aware of the motorcycle’s size and taking care to avoid crowding them, as they are entitled to the full width of their lane

At times, motorcyclists may downshift instead of using their brakes to slow down. A bike also has a much shorter stopping distance than a car. That’s why it’s crucial for drivers to maintain a safe following distance, giving themselves ample time to react and prevent a crash.

Drivers need to avoid distractions, keep their full attention on the road, and always signal their intentions when changing lanes or merging with traffic. Moreover, they need to yield the right of way to motorcycles just as they would to any other vehicle and recognize that bikers have just as much right to use the road as any other operator.

Motorcycle accident lawyers serving Houston, TX

If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident due to another driver’s negligence, it’s important to protect your rights. Don’t let the insurance company or other parties push you around and deny you the justice and financial compensation you deserve.

At Smith & Hassler, our Houston, TX motorcycle accident attorneys understand the unique challenges injured motorcycle riders face and can aggressively advocate for your best interests. With decades of experience representing clients in motorcycle accident cases, we have the knowledge and experience to help you navigate the legal system and recover the compensation you’re entitled to under Texas law.

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation.

TxDOT to Move Forward with I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project

Houston Texas Skyline

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have signed a Voluntary Resolution Agreement (VRA) to address the FHWA Title VI investigation of the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), which in turn lifted FHWA’s pause on the project.

According to a March press release by the FHWA, the actions in the VRA will be performed in addition to and/or in compliance with the mitigation actions already committed to by TxDOT, as contained within the Record of Decision (ROD), including:

  • Twice Annual Public Meetings through Design and Construction;
  • Mitigating Displacements, Relocations, Housing, and Other Community Impacts;
  • Drainage Improvements to Reduce Flooding;
  • Parks, Open Space, Trails, Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities;
  • Community Access During Construction;
  • Highway “Footprint” Reduction;
  • Structural Highway Caps;
  • Air Quality Mitigation; and
  • Meaningful Access for Persons with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

“This agreement moves forward an important project, responds to community concerns, and improves the North Houston Highway Improvement Project in ways that will make a real difference in people’s lives,” Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt said in the press release. “Through this agreement the community will have a greater voice in the design and throughout the project’s life cycle. We have lifted the pause, and with FHWA oversight, TXDOT may proceed with design and construction.”

What is the 1-45 project in Houston?

The I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), with a price tag of $9 billion, aims to completely reconstruct the interstate between downtown Houston and the North Sam Houston Tollway to meet federal safety standards and enhance mobility. The project will not only improve safety but also increase transportation options through the addition of four non-tolled managed lanes.

Furthermore, bicycle and pedestrian features along frontage roads, cross streets, and trails parallel to bayous within the right of way will provide increased mobility for non-motorized forms of transportation. The project will also incorporate detention ponds, pump stations, and other flood mitigation tools to combat Houston’s notorious flooding issues.

The project will also have a positive environmental impact through less congested traffic and reduced idling cars, among other mitigation measures. Overall, the NHHIP is a comprehensive infrastructure project that will modernize one of Houston’s major thoroughfares and improve both safety and mobility.

“This portion of I-45 was built in stages in the 1950s and 1960s and the design remained essentially the same while the area population has doubled,” TxDOT executive director Marc Williams said in the press release. “The reconstruction of I-45 will address mobility needs for people and freight, while also improving safety and a number of environmental mitigations that include critical measures to improve storm water drainage. Considering the recently executed agreements with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County, and now the FHWA, we are excited to get this critical infrastructure project moving with our partnering agencies.”

Car accident attorneys fighting for Houston’s injured

I-45 is among the deadliest highways in Texas, so any improvements are crucial for public safety. However, the proposed improvements under the NHHIP have been hotly debated, with concerns raised about their potential negative impact on the surrounding community. Despite the controversy, the need for increased safety and mobility on I-45 cannot be overstated.

Unfortunately, only so much can be done to prevent serious and fatal car accidents on I-45. Remember, it only takes one careless driver to cause a crash with devastating consequences for those involved.

If you were injured or a loved one died in a serious crash on I-45 or any other highway in Texas, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced car accident lawyer. An attorney can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process of seeking justice and financial compensation for any injuries or damages you may have suffered.

At Smith & Hassler, our Houston car accident attorneys can help you navigate the complex legal system and work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve under Texas law. To learn more about how our law firm can help you, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

March is Dedicated to Raising Awareness About Brain Injuries

"March is Brain Injury Awareness Month" graphic featuring a green ribbon and small grayscale illustration of a human head with a red lightning bolt poking it.

Suffering a TBI in an accident can have devastating consequences

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a serious and often life-altering medical condition that affects millions of people each year. A TBI can be caused by a blow or jolt to the head or by an object penetrating the brain. It can range in severity from mild, causing temporary headaches or confusion, to severe, resulting in long-term disability or even death.

Understanding TBI is of utmost importance, as a severe brain injury can profoundly impact a person’s life and well-being. TBI can affect a person’s physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning as well as their relationships and overall quality of life. In short, brain injuries are complex conditions that require specialized care and attention.

Unfortunately, brain injuries are often misunderstood or misdiagnosed, which can lead to inadequate treatment and poor outcomes. In addition, insurance companies frequently seek to reduce compensation for brain injury claims by questioning the severity of the injury, contesting its cause, or assigning blame to the victim. That’s when having experienced legal representation on your side can make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your case. If you or someone you love suffered a traumatic brain injury involving negligence, contact Smith & Hassler today to review your potential legal options.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and to increase awareness of TBI, it is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and risk factors associated with this condition.

There are two main types of TBI: closed-head injuries and penetrating head injuries. Closed head injuries occur when a blow or jolt to the head causes the brain to move within the skull, resulting in injury. Penetrating head injuries occur when an object penetrates the skull and damages brain tissue.

Common causes of TBI include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and violent assaults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of TBI, particularly among older adults and young children. Motor vehicle accidents are another common cause of TBI, even at low speeds. Violent assaults, including domestic violence, physical assaults, and gunshot wounds to the head, may also result in a TBI.

Several risk factors are associated with TBI, including age, gender, and certain medical conditions. For example, men are more likely to experience TBI than women, and individuals over 65 are at higher risk for falls and other accidents that can result in TBI. In addition, individuals with certain medical conditions, such as a history of prior TBI, may also be at increased risk for future brain injuries.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Understanding the symptoms of TBI is crucial in ensuring timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment for those affected. That said, it’s always in your best interest to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after an accident, whether you fell and hit your head or were involved in a car accident:

  • Physical symptoms of TBI can include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, sensitivity to light or sound, seizures, and loss of consciousness. These symptoms may occur immediately after the injury or develop gradually over time. In severe cases of TBI, physical symptoms can include paralysis or weakness in the limbs, difficulty speaking or understanding language, and loss of vision or hearing.
  • Cognitive symptoms of TBI can include difficulty with memory, attention, and concentration. Individuals with TBI may have trouble processing information, solving problems, or making decisions. They may also experience confusion, disorientation, and difficulty with spatial awareness.
  • Emotional symptoms of TBI can include changes in mood, such as anxiety, depression, irritability, and anger. Individuals with TBI may also experience emotional outbursts or mood swings that are out of character.
  • Behavioral symptoms of TBI can include changes in personality, such as increased impulsivity, risk-taking behavior, or apathy. Individuals with TBI may also struggle with social interactions or withdraw from social situations altogether.

Keep in mind that symptoms of TBI can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury, as well as the individual’s age and overall health. Additionally, some signs of TBI may not be immediately apparent and may develop over time.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury

Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure that individuals with TBI receive timely and appropriate treatment to minimize the long-term impact of the injury.

CT scans, MRIs, neurological examinations, and cognitive assessments can help a doctor identify the extent and location of the injury, as well as any associated complications, such as bleeding or swelling in the brain.

Once the injury is diagnosed, treatment options may include surgical intervention to address bleeding or swelling in the brain and medication to manage symptoms such as pain, anxiety, or seizures. In severe cases of TBI, individuals may require intensive care and life support measures to stabilize their condition.

Once stabilized, individuals with TBI may benefit from rehabilitation and recovery options such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy. These therapies can help individuals regain their physical and cognitive functioning and improve their overall quality of life.

Medications and other therapies may also be used to manage specific symptoms of TBI, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to manage emotional symptoms or assistive technology to aid with communication or mobility.

A Houston brain injury attorney can protect your rights

Since 1989, Smith & Hassler has been dedicated to fighting for those who have been injured due to negligence. We understand the tactics that insurance companies use to limit compensation, and we don’t stand for them. Our lawyers are here to help you fight back and recover the maximum financial compensation you deserve.

If you or a loved one suffered a concussion or some other type of TBI in an accident in Houston, TX, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. In Texas, you typically have a two-year window from the date of the accident to take legal action against the negligent party that caused your injury. However, as time goes on, evidence can be lost, and the memories of witnesses can fade.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn more about how we can help. Don’t wait – let us fight for your rights and help you find your way forward after a brain injury.

Houston’s Most Dangerous Road to Receive $28 Million Upgrade

Car speeding at night in city

The federal grant is the largest grant any city received in Texas.

The City of Houston has announced a major overhaul to one of its most dangerous roadways, as the federal government has pledged $28.7 million to enhance safety measures on a seven-mile stretch of Bissonnet Street, according to

The project, which will focus on the stretch of Bissonnet between S. Dairy Ashford Road and Hillcroft Avenue, aims to reduce the number of fatal accidents on the roadway, which city data shows has a higher death toll than any other street in Houston.

Houston is among 510 communities nationwide to receive funding for safety improvements through “Safe Streets and Roads for All,” a federal grant program announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) that awarded a total of $800 million in grants.

“The project will help reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries along the corridor, which travels directly through the underserved communities of Alief-Westwood, Gulfton, and Braeburn,” DOT officials wrote in the project’s description.

Upgrades are a welcome change.

The advocacy group LINK Houston, which advocates for equitable transportation access, has welcomed the much-anticipated safety improvements. LINK Houston has long been pushing for a robust and equitable transportation network and has named the intersection one of the city’s most dangerous (No. 8 on the organization’s priority list).

“It’s about time,” LINK Houston’s Gabe Cazares said. “It’s about time that every level of government use every resource available to them to make sure people stop dying on Texas roads.”

The initiative aligns with the city’s “Vision Zero” mission and aims to reduce traffic accidents and improve safety for motorists and pedestrians along Bissonnet Street. This particular stretch of road, which is part of Houston’s High Injury Network, has seen a disproportionate number of fatal crashes and serious injury incidents compared to other city-owned streets.

According to ABC 13, upgrades to the stretch of road are scheduled to begin in 2025 and are set to be completed by 2028. The revamp will feature wider sidewalks, multi-use paths, new traffic signals, and pedestrian crossings designed to lower dangerous speeds. The new design will aim to create a safer and more accessible environment for all street users.

Bissonnet Corridor Fatal and Serious Injury Crash Statistics (2014-2021)

According to data published in the Bissonnet Corridor Safe Streets Project application, from 2014 to 2021, there were 19 fatalities and 149 severe injuries due to crashes on the Bissonnet Corridor. Of those 19 deaths, 11 were pedestrians, and 8 were classified as motorists (drivers, passengers, motorcyclists).

For serious injuries, there were 111 suffered by motorists, 35 by pedestrians, and 3 by bicyclists.

With a fatality and serious injury crash rate of more than 18 per mile over the eight years of analyzed data, this stretch of road affects a significant portion of the city’s population. Over 135,286 residents, or 6% of Houston’s total population, live along Bissonnet Street. In addition to these residents, the area is home to 19 schools and over 25,000 workers.

The grant application states that commuting along Bissonnet Street is especially challenging for those who rely on walking, biking, or public transit, with 8% of commuters using these modes of transportation. The #65-Bissonnet bus route, which carries an average daily ridership of 4,055 people, is one of METRO’s busiest and most important routes, and it is slated to be upgraded as part of the Safe Streets Project.

The project’s overall goal is to make Bissonnet Street safer for all who live, work, and travel along it.

Contact a Houston car accident lawyer if you’ve been injured.

In the aftermath of a crash, your focus should be on your recovery, not navigating the often-complex claims process. With this in mind, it is crucial to have an advocate who understands the ins and outs of securing full compensation for damages sustained.

At Smith & Hassler, Attorneys At Law, our car accident attorneys possess the knowledge and experience to manage all the details of your claim, allowing you to focus solely on your recovery. Whether a resolution is reached through a settlement or a jury verdict, our team is committed to pursuing the maximum possible recovery on your behalf.

To learn how an experienced Houston car accident lawyer can help you, contact us today for a free case evaluation.