Interesting Texas Traffic Stories for January, 2019



Check out some of the interesting news stories and developments affecting Texas drivers from the past month.

Tollway project to improve traffic for North Texas cities (Celina Record)

To keep up with the demand of increased traffic, the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) will make improvements to the Sam Rayburn Tollway (SRT) that will begin in Coppell and end in McKinney, beginning next year.

According to NTTA officials, The SRT Fourth Lane Project will consist of constructing an additional lane in each direction along the entire 26-mile toll road, from west of Denton Tap Road to U.S. 75.

In addition, ramp improvements will be made between the Dallas North Tollway and Preston Road to separate traffic for motorists exiting northbound from the SRT to Preston Road and for motorists entering SRT from the Dallas North Tollway. Auxiliary lanes will also be added in various locations along the corridor to improve ramp merging areas. [Read more…]

DPS releases University of North Texas analysis of traffic stop data (EverythingLubbock.com)

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) [on Thursday]released a comprehensive analysis conducted by the University of North Texas (UNT) regarding DPS traffic stop data by race/ethnicity of drivers. The report, which was initiated at the department’s request, concluded that DPS’ internal controls align with documented best practices, and UNT offered no recommended changes to the department’s current practices, policies and protocols.

Nonetheless, DPS announced the launch of an innovative internal control program related to traffic stop data. DPS began developing this program in 2017. This new system tracks DPS traffic stop data related to the race and ethnicity of drivers, which DPS will use to identify trends and outliers that could indicate performance issues, including the potential for racial profiling. [Read more…]

If you want to fix Houston’s traffic, ask yourself: What would Bob Lanier do? (Houston Chronicle)

Elyse Lanier loves to tell a story about her husband that says a lot about him and about how to get things done.

One Sunday in 1992, as the two of them approached the Astrodome to watch the Houston Oilers play football, traffic was so bad that an exasperated Mayor Bob Lanier bolted from their car and marched to the game just in time for kickoff. Elyse didn’t join him until the middle of the second quarter.

Mayor Bob, as we called him, was a man of action. Throughout his 89 years, he displayed the consistent ability to establish goals and then accomplish them. That, above all, is why he was admired by his friends and respected by his adversaries.

And so, the following Monday he gathered his lieutenants and traffic experts to his third-floor office at City Hall to identify the problem and find a solution. In no time, the complex challenge was solved with better traffic management to the satisfaction of tens of thousands of Oilers fans who had grown weary of waiting too long in traffic. [Read more…]

The New Year brings new laws to Texas (KWTX 10)

The New Year is bringing new laws to Texas.

Law changes how vehicles are titled

As of Jan. 1, SB 2076 states the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will no longer give you the original title. They will only issue copies.

Adding more courts to simplify case loads

Due to Texas populations increasing, its growth has not only impacted traffic but also caseloads of courts.

State Law makers say SD 1329 help aid this issue by adding more courts across the state. It also changes the jurisdiction of some courts. [Read more…]

In the Permian Basin, An Increase In Traffic Accidents Is Taking A Toll On EMTs (Marfa Public Radio)

Driving in the Permian Basin can be dangerous. Roads are packed, huge commercial trucks barrel down the highways, drivers can be careless. The rate of fatal car crashes in the region is rising steeply.

This increase can be difficult and personal for first responders who see these wrecks and take care of the injured.

Carol Jost opens the door to the Volunteer EMS garage in Garden City and steps into the cool building. She quickly points out two ambulances. “They’re always ready to go whenever we have a call.”

Jost is the Emergency Services Administrator for Glasscock County and manages its 18 volunteer EMTs. It’s clear from the layer of dirt on the ambulances’ back doors that they’ve been busy driving along dusty roads. On one, a hand-drawn message has been left on a window: “Wash me”, which makes Jost chuckle. [Read more…]

Traffic, Taxes and Tech: Austin Reacts to Apple’s $1B Campus (AUSTININNO)

Years ago, before Apple initially expanded its campus in North Austin, and even before Austin was on the map for Amazon’s second headquarters, our city has been worried about how the explosive growth of tech would impact its character.

And, there is zero doubt: It has.

Austin’s rapid growth is largely attributed to the fast-paced growth of tech giants like Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook — as well as the proliferation of smaller scale startups filling up co-working spaces and spare office space across the city.

Austin’s tech boom has transformed neighborhoods, increased property values and added to the city’s traffic issues. It has brought in a dizzying amount of brain power as engineering leaders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs uproot their families from places like San Francisco and Boston to take jobs in Austin, which remains much more affordable than those cities. [Read more…]

REAL ID Act letter landing in mailboxes of many Texas drivers (KWTX 10)

Thousands of Texas residents are receiving letters from the department of public safety warning that their driver’s licenses are about to expire.

Many people are receiving these letters even though their licenses are still valid for more than a year or two. But, there is an explanation.

DPS is in the process of implementing The REAL ID ACT program, which will require many Texas to get an updated ID to travel and go into federal buildings.

The REAL ID Act deadline is October 2020, but DPS does not want residents to wait until then.

Letters have been arriving in mailboxes across the country, not just central Texas.

Texas has joined the National REAL ID Act, and when it goes into effect in 2020, you'll need an updated driver’s license that will have a white star in a gold circle on the right corner of the license. [Read more…]

Does Texas need a hands-free law for drivers? (KXAN)

Texas has a texting while driving ban, but there’s a new effort underway to make the law go even further to keep drivers safe.

“I am one that will tell you from the start, hands-free is safer,” said Jennifer Smith, founder of StopDistractions.Org. “You should not be using your phone at all while driving, even to talk. But right now, where we’re at in the world, you can get a hands-free law passed. If you took that phone out of the driver’s hand, that enables law enforcement to enforce the law and that enables them to issue consequences to change that behavior.”

Smith, a Texas native, lost her mom in a crash 10 years ago that was caused by another driver who was texting behind the wheel.

“We worked on the texting law for over eight years in the state of Texas,” Smith said. [Read more…]

Audit questions how DPS verifies eligibility when issuing Texas driver's licenses (The Texas Tribune)

A state audit has found that the Texas Department of Public Safety "lacks sufficient controls" to make sure the agency is collecting and retaining information to confirm that people who get driver's licenses have Social Security numbers or passed their road tests.

The report, released Wednesday by the Texas State Auditor’s Office, reviewed a sample of 60 standard ID cards and driver's licenses. One quarter lacked necessary documentation. For commercial licenses, that figure was even higher: 40 percent of those tested in the audit had missing documentation. All licenses and IDs tested in the audit were issued between September 2016 and February 2018.

The auditors warned, however, that the sample was not representative of the full population of license recipients, so "it would not be appropriate to project the test results to the population." [Read more…]

Txdot’s ‘Plan While You Can’ Campaign Aimed at Reminding Texas Drivers to Find A Sober Ride This Holiday Season (Front Porch News)

It was the middle of the night in 2006 when Debra Vasquez was awakened by the heart-wrenching phone call informing her that her 16-year-old daughter, Erica, and 5-year-old nephew, Elias, had been killed by a drunk driver. It was later revealed the drunk driver had two prior DWIs.

“I want drivers to understand that your life can change in the blink of an eye,” Vasquez said. “Two lives were taken because of someone’s mistake to drink alcohol and drive. People think ‘oh this won’t happen to me.’ I thought this at one time, too. I beg you. Don’t drink alcohol and drive.”

Vasquez is sharing her story to support the Texas Department of Transportation’s “Plan While You Can” campaign, which urges drivers to make a plan for a sober ride this holiday season.

“Planning for a sober ride to and from holiday festivities is not only smart and responsible, but it also could save your life and the lives of others,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “Let the holiday season be a time of celebration and fun, not regret. Nobody wants to remember the holidays as a time when they lost a loved one or killed an innocent person. These kinds of losses are totally preventable.” [Read more…]

States look to breathalyze convicted drunk drivers to reduce fatalities (ABC News)

On Jan. 1, California joined the majority of states that have laws requiring drivers with drunken-driving convictions to install breathalyzers in vehicles they own or operate.

Researchers, public health advocates and political leaders believe these laws are helping reduce alcohol-related road deaths.

The gadgets, known as ignition interlock devices, are mounted on the steering wheel of a vehicle and prevent it from starting if the driver’s blood-alcohol reading is above a predetermined level.

In California, the breathalyzers are mandatory only for repeat offenders. Five other states — Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Montana and Ohio — have similar laws. Thirty-two states and D.C. require the devices even for first-time offenders.

The advent of such laws across the United States in the past 15 years has been accompanied by some good news: Deaths involving drunken driving are only about half of what they were in the early 1980s, though they have ticked back up in recent years. [Read more…]

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