Here in Lubbock, it seems like cars are magnetically attracted to buildings. If you're like me, your first thought is hoping everyone is okay, then you immediately think to blame the driver. What kind of idiot hits a house? Surely, they must have been drunk or high or something. But what if the driver isn't totally to blame? What if it's actually Lubbock itself to blame? 

First, let's take a step back. Is Lubbock really unique in this phenomenon? Actually, no. Cars hitting buildings happens way more often across the country than you probably would have guessed. It is estimated that car/ building accidents happen all the time:

Per one estimate, at least 100 cars crash into buildings every day, and research suggests the death and injury toll of vehicle-in-building crashes is in the thousands.


Again, I can't blame you if your instinct is to think that there are that many irresponsible or incapable drivers on the road. And that is certainly part of it. We should note that only about 20% of car/ building wrecks are "pedal error," that is, someone hitting the gas instead of the brakes, or drive instead of reverse, etc. So there's the "incapable" portion of our accidents, and while they can cause a lot of damage, they aren't usually fatal incidents (although, of course, they can be. )

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Everything Lubbock on Youtube

Frighteningly, that means 80% of car/building accidents are not from a parked position and that someone actually drove right into the building. I can't blame you if you have left this article to place a boulder in your yard or plant a large tree. When I was a kid, a truck hit a bush in our yard and flipped completely over. The truck would have hit our living room if it hadn't been for that bush.

That particular accident was caused by drunken driving. They were going much too fast down a steep incline (I lived in a mountainous part of the country then). They tried to take a turn much too quickly and nearly killed themselves and my family over it. But there was another factor at play too- which may be the problem in Lubbock. It was the design of the road. 

Back then I lived two houses off of what is called a "stroad" which is shorthand for street/road:

A stroad combines the functionality of a street (a place for people and businesses to interact) with the abilities of a road (a high-speed route between people and places).

A stroad sounds like a great idea until you realize how deeply dangerous they obviously are. High speed AND people slowing to make turns into businesses and homes is a recipe for collisions. So what's the solution?

The best solution is good road engineering in the first place and towns that have spaces that cater to pedestrians and/or slow traffic. However, in most cases "what's done is done" and new solutions must be introduced to old roads. This can take the shape of traffic "calming" devices like speed tables, speed bumps, and chicanes. Or it can be a sort of retrofitting like curb extensions. When I lived off University, a lot of our traffic problems were solved by a concrete median between University proper and a sort of mini side road that fed into the neighborhood.

As Lubbock grows in population, it is my hope that we make good planning choices in the first place for new areas and that we are able to implement good solutions to existing roads as well, so we have a whole lot less of this:

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