New Study Supports Car Towing

A new study finds the City of Houston's program to clear stalled and damaged cars from freeway lanes as quickly as possible is cutting down on the number of accidents on those freeways. David Pitman has more.

The City of Houston started its SafeClear Tow Program in January of 2005.   The purpose is to improve tow truck response times so disabled and wrecked vehicles don't clog up traffic or cause secondary accidents.  

Dr. Tim Lomax is a research engineer with the Texas Transportation Institute.  He's part of a team that compared the number of accidents on Houston freeways, to what researchers estimate would have happened, had the program not been in effect.

"By that metric, we think there's been about 120 fewer crashes per month that we can attribute to the SafeClear program."

The SafeClear program assigns tow truck operators certain sections of freeway, which they patrol for drivers in need.  Dr. Lomax says the program has become more effective, thanks to better coordination and cooperation among tow truck companies.

"They talk to each other about what's happening on adjacent pieces of road that may not be their responsibility, and that's lead to faster response times, as well."

Nearly nine out of every ten tow calls are responded to within six minutes, just shy of the 90 percent goal.  Dr. Lomax says higher fuel prices have kept some tow truck operators from patrolling the freeways as aggressively as they did when gasoline was cheaper.
 

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David Pitman

Local Host, Morning Edition

The one question David hears most often isn't "What is it like to work for an NPR member station?" or "Have you ever met Terry Gross?" (he has)...