Community groups want speed limit lowered to 25 mph in residential areas

Houston community groups are getting behind a state legislative proposal to reduce the speed limit in residential areas from 30 to 25 miles per hour. They say just this 5 mile an hour decrease could save Texas lives.

Luisa Peterzen is getting behind their effort.

"Anything can wait but a life cannot be replaced," she told FOX 26.

Currently, the state requires streets in urban areas have a speed limit of 30 miles per hour.

That's the speed limit posted where her 10-year-old son Victor was hit by a car last year. He was riding his bike after school when he was hit by a car in his Spring Branch neighborhood.

Victor died from his injuries.

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10-year-old Victor Peterzen was riding his bike when he was struck by a car. He died days later. Victor had already written his Christmas list for Santa Claus.

The case is still under investigation, but Peterzen believes the driver was distracted and speeding.

"We want to make sure that what happened to Victor is not in vain because this is the worst nightmare ever," she said fighting back tears.

Texas State House Representative Celia Israel introduced House Bill 442 to reduce the speed limit on residential streets to 25 miles per hour.

Super Neighborhood Alliance and the Greater Houston Coalition for Complete Streets are launching a letter-writing campaign to move the bill forward.

"At 30 miles an hour, a person is 70% likely to die from their injuries being hit. At 25 miles an hour, that death rate goes down tremendously," said Leigh Killgore with Super Neighborhood Alliance 14.

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Israel's office says typical braking distance is 25 feet longer at 30 miles an hour than at 25. According to a report by the AAA Foundation that 5 mile an hour difference increases a pedestrian's chance of survival by more than 40%.

"It is a starting point to saving lives and 2021 is a good time to get started," said Dexter Handy with Greater Houston Coaltion for Complete Streets.

The effort ties into Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's Vision Zero campaign launched in December.

It aims to end traffic-related deaths by 2030.

"We've lost more than 200 people as fatalities in serious crashes every year in Houston and another 1,000 are seriously injured," added Handy. "That means someone in Houston dies in a crash every other day."

Similar bills to HB 442 have been introduced in the past 3 legislative sessions. Peterzen says this session needs to be the one where it advances.

"Legislators need to act quick. The change needs to be done right now," she urged. "There is a not worse tragedy than losing a child like this in the neighborhood."

Follow Super Neighborhood Alliance and the Greater Houston Coalition for Complete Streets for details on the letter-writing campaign to advance HB 442.