A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH is in effect for Austin, Burleson, Lee, and Washington Counties until 10am. A few strong to severe thunderstorms cannot be ruled out through mid-morning. Damaging winds in excess of 60mph and large hail are the main concern.
Houston Mayor Bill White is touting a study showing a 10 percent decline in crashes on the city's freeways. He says the decline shows the success of a mandatory towing program enacted last year.
Under the Safe Clear program, specially licensed tow drivers work with police to remove stalled or wrecked vehicles from freeway lanes as quickly as possible. The wreckers have a mandatory six-minute response time.
Crashes declined from an average of 14,670 per year in 2003 and 2004 to 13-thousand-137 in 2005. The study was conducted by researchers at Rice University and the Texas Transportation Institute.
But the towing program has its critics who argue that it costs too much. They say the government-mandated tows and exclusive towing contracts aren't fair.
Houston City Council member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs says factors other than the towing program could have contributed to the decrease in crashes.
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