Interstate 45 tops the list of the county’s 13 deadliest highways, more than doubling the number of fatal crashes elsewhere in the last six years, state officials said.

Texas Department of Transportation reports obtained by The Daily News showed 198 people died in 179 fatal crashes in Galveston County since Jan. 1, 2008. Speed or alcohol most often contributed to those accidents.

Meanwhile, strained budgets and increased calls for service have led to fewer officers assigned to traffic enforcement on parts of the freeway, which is patrolled by municipalities, troopers with the Department of Public Safety and sheriff’s deputies.

Sheriff Henry Trochesset said he reassigned four traffic enforcement deputies to cover increased calls for service in the Bayshore area of Bacliff and San Leon, which was previously patrolled by one officer.

“We couldn’t answer calls with just one deputy there,” Trochesset said. “With the call volume, that resource was needed more in Bayshore than I-45.”

The La Marque Police Department also experienced staffing constraints, police Sgt. Shawn Spruill said, but both La Marque police and the sheriff’s office continue to patrol I-45 as call volume allows.

League City’s seven Traffic Division officers and troopers from the Department of Public Safety regularly patrol I-45, but slowing freeway commuter traffic is not as easy as enforcement efforts in town, where drivers are more accustom to seeing police daily, League City police officer Jennafer Woitena said.

“We steadily hit the freeway often and knock down speeders,” Woitena said. “It’s deadly when it’s raining. We go on the freeway with lights on, and folks tend to slow down.”

Fatality crashes in League City most often happen at night with intoxicated or sleepy drivers, Woitena said. Officers also patrol early mornings between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. when bar and strip club patrons leave, she said.

Troopers and other law enforcement agencies also focus on peak traffic times, such as rush hours and holidays.

Programs that provide money to pay officers overtime, such as Click It or Ticket and no-refusal weekends during holidays, are also successful in curtailing speeding and drunken driving, authorities say.

“We do some type of enforcement on I-45 daily,” Sgt. John Sampa of the Department of Public Safety said. “Will they’re always be somebody on 45? Yes and no. We cover the county with a 10-man duty station.”

Contact Reporter Chris Paschenko at 409-683-5241 or chris.paschenko@galvnews.com.

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(8) comments

seamus
Jim Casey

The busiest roads have the most crashes. It would be demeaning to say, "duh."

I drive the Gulf Freeway every day. It is not a challenging road. It is mostly straight, mostly level, at least three lanes, without unusual approaches like entrance and exit ramps on the left until you get to 610.

Every day I see people darting trough traffic like they were in a grand prix race, failing to signal maneuvers, and otherwise doing auto-proctoscopies while driving.

- Jim

Freaky Tiki

In commuting along 45 for three years, I have seen officers only a handful of times. Like Seamus says, the aggressive drivers need to be controlled.

Island Bred

I drove 45 for 18 years daily and and am now doing it again. Traffic seems the same to me. There are idiots that you have to watch out for and I admit that some have had to watch out for me from time to time. I do see lots of "darters" that I fully expect to see on the side of the road after I catch up to them. For the most part they seem to crash and burn elsewhere if at all. Then there are those that are so slow that they create more danger than they should. What I find has kept me alive thus far is don't be in such a hurry that you lose your life, watch your rear view mirror so you can get out of the way of those speeding to hell, and if it's a lazy day for me I hang in the slow lane, and always be more courteous than the fella next to ya or commin up on ya and lastly - look look look and listen for cycles.

George Croix

An informative article should be able to carry it's own weight without hyperbole.
How is a highway 'deadly'.
How can a flat surface of dirt/rock/asphalt/concrete just laying on top of the ground cause fatalities?
Perhaps you meant to say that many drivers have caused deaths while on those roads.
Deadly drivers.
There ya go. Facts replacing false indictment.
All better.

Frank Emmite

Defense Defense. Defensive Driving all.

sverige1
Lars Faltskog

There is a psychology attached to the driving habits of many. The most mentally sick are the ones who feel as though it's OK to barrel through. Interesting that many, but not all, have the latest/expensive models, and are "inconvenienced" if the rest of us dare to get in their way.

Here's my theory: Many of these folks who barrel through think of the freeway as one of those video games. It's thought of as a game where the objective is to maneuver and weave through, as if in the end - getting to the destination in a slightly quicker fashion is an "accomplishment". Chances are overwhelmingly on the side that wherever they need to go in a hurry really isn't all that important. But, to THEM it somehow is.

People have lost the virtue of sharing the road. "No one is going to get ahead of me!" is one mentality. Another mindset are of those who, for some reason, get psychologically out of sorts if the driver just ahead of them is "going too slow". Tailgating and bullying the driver ahead of them to move over is an exhibit of aggressive behavior, very likely a result of some type of frustration, insecurity, or anxiety. Aggressive driving is a "release" of such angst.

Stuart Crouch

I guess all that traffic on 518 has an upside; it's hard to die when it's bumper-to-bumper. :-)

George Croix

It's a challenge to stay alive on the roadways now.
It should be an absolute free-for-all if enough of the new 'smart cars' that are being advertised as capable of performing some driving functions without driver input get on the road.
My favorite is the idiot woman with her two small children in the Mitsubishi who's so busy rubbernecking she nearly rear ends a family in a car in front of her, but is SAVED by the car's auto breaking sensors.
Rather than smiling about her new car, she should have her license cancelled for life before the twit takes somebody else's when a 'sensor' doesn't work when it should.
You already have absolute unfixable idiots texting , reading books, putting on makeup, etc. while driving. Anyone already that stupid will expect the car to drive itself for them.
Good luck with that...to everyone in the crash zone...

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