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Austin sees uptick in people hurt, killed in crashes after deadly weekend on roads

File image of I-35 in Central Austin. (CBS Austin)
File image of I-35 in Central Austin. (CBS Austin)
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The Austin Transportation Department is kicking its Vision Zero initiative into high gear after deadly crashes in Austin leave two people dead and another injured over the weekend. The department is looking to reduce the number of people hurt or killed.

"We continue to see pedestrian fatalities and pedestrian serious injuries increase over the last couple years," Transportation Safety Officer, Lewis Leff said.

A video caught on camera by a bystander showed a disturbing example on Wednesday night of the moment a driver hit a bicyclist near the Long Center and sped away. The man hit by the car was taken to the hospital. At last check, Austin Police are still searching for the driver.

The Vision Zero initiative has the goal of making improvements and policy changes to reduce the number of people hurt and killed in crashes.

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"We've got to have the awareness that we're a major city now and that we have people that are active all times of day and all times of night," Leff said.

There have been 80 serious injuries and 16 deaths since Feb. caused by speeding and reckless driving. After the deadly weekend on city roadways, that number will go up. According to Leff, the numbers are exceeding last year's pace.

The city is working on street, sidewalk, and crosswalk improvements to make sure pedestrians are safe. Austin Transportation has also partnered with Austin Police to crack down on speeding and impaired drivers.

"We've really got to push farther than we have in the past to make sure that we've got enough crossings that are safe and that are visible," he said.

Another package of speed limit reductions is expected to go before the Austin City Council this summer. When drivers hit the road Austin Transportation wants them to think of one thing before getting behind the wheel.

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"The loss we're experiencing has a community, you know, each time one of these fatal crashes happen its somebody's child," Leff said.

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