2017 traffic deaths in Austin down 25% from record-breaking 2015

There were 76 deaths on Austin roads in 2017 and 79 deaths in 2016—both years down about 25 percent from 2015. (Photo: CBS Austin)

Preliminary data from the Austin Transportation Department shows more people made it home safely in 2017. There were 76 deaths on Austin roads last year and 79 deaths in 2016—both years down about 25 percent from 2015. That year, a record-breaking 102 people died in crashes.

The City of Austin says they’ll keep working to fight traffic deaths until that number is zero. Early statistics show some physical roadway improvements appear to be making streets safer.

Sammy Guerrero knows being a pedestrian in Austin can be dangerous. He's been hit by a car not once but twice.

“Hit me in the side, throws me in the air and, God-willing, I made it,” says Guerro.

Tuesday, Guerro was waiting for the bus near North Lamar and Rundberg Lane. It’s a dangerous intersection the City of Austin spent $760,000 to improve. Raised medians now prevent drivers from turning across the busy street and crashes there are down 22 percent. However, while a CBS Austin crew was there --just 40 yards away where the median ends-- there was another crash leaving one woman injured.

“We have a long way to go as a community,” explains Laura Dierenfield division manager for the Active Transportation and Street Design Division of the Austin Transportation Department.

Dierenfield says, through the Vizion Zero program, the Austin Transportation Department will do everything they can to eliminate fatal crashes and serious injuries by 2025.

“How can we make turns safer? How can we make crossing safer? How can we make speeds safer?” asks Dierenfield.

Educating the community and cracking down on dangerous drivers is also a reason traffic deaths are down. Still, the transportation department says there's no one thing, group or person that will save lives -- but instead everyone working together to save each other.

“Be aware that even one fatality for a family is too much, and we all need to do our part to make sure these tragic crashes do not occur in Austin,” says Dierenfield.

According to the Austin Transportation Department 79 percent of traffic deaths and serious injuries are caused by:

  • Driver inattention or distraction
  • Speed
  • Alcohol and/or drugs
  • Improper movements (e.g., lane changing, backing or turning)
  • Failure to stop
  • Failure to yield right of way

According to TxDOT, in both 2015 and 2016, the top causes for serious or fatal crashes in Austin were failure to yield and driver inattention/distraction.

Make safe driving a priority and challenge others to do the same. Record a video of yourself saying what you’ll do to make Austin streets safer and post it online with the hash tag #VisionZeroHero. Searching the hashtag will reveal various videos from city leaders, police officers and even McGruff the Crime Dog.

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