This is true nationwide as well, but I digress. The Houston Chronicle observes (boldface mine):
We drive past the crashes, numbed to their frequency, by how they add up. But they do: 640 people a year die on Houston-area roads, and 2,850 more are seriously injured.
The carnage, all factors considered, makes Houston the most deadly major metro area in the nation for drivers, passengers and people in their path, a Houston Chronicle analysis of 16 years of federal highway data reveals.
The death toll is the equivalent of three fully-loaded 737s crashing each year at Houston’s airports, killing all aboard. Losing that many planes and passengers would lead to federal hearings, but the Houston roadway deaths are met largely with silence, other than the occasional warning from public safety officials to drive safely and be careful crossing the street.
The nine-county metro region, defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, leads the nation for fatal crashes involving drugs and alcohol, the Chronicle analysis shows. It’s No. 2 for fatal crashes, per capita, on federal highways in the 12 largest regions of the country. The Houston region ranks second for fatal wrecks that involve speeding and also trails only Dallas in crashes blamed on someone slamming into stopped congestion on the freeway.
Each of the 12 biggest areas has weak spots, but only Houston ranks in the top half of major metros in every category examined in the analysis.
“There is a cultural Novocaine at work here in terms of complacency to highway fatalities,” said Deborah Hersman, former head of the National Transportation Safety Board. “Somehow with complacency, we just have not had the tipping point as a nation.”
Safety officials are alarmed by the death toll, says Jeff Weatherford, deputy director of Houston Public Works. But the full impact of the day-by-day tally of crashes and deaths often escapes the grasp of drivers, taxpayers and lawmakers.
“The (fatality) count, it’s up there,” Weatherford said. “But the public is not paying attention.”
In 2016, the nine counties of Greater Houston had 164 murders. That’s four times as many traffic fatalities as murders. While our national discourse will cite Chicago as a murderous hellhole (though many of those doing said citing could care less about Chicagoans), we will hear nothing about the American Carnage, to use a prominent local politician’s phrase, in Houston.
It is also worth noting that, if any mass transit system, were anywhere near as lethal as Houston’s road system, there would be calls to shut it down immediately, and it would be viewed as yet one more mass transit failure. But Houston? Crickets.