please drive safe sign after fatal crash

Unlicensed Drivers Killed 32 in Austin Last Year

APD’s Vision Zero Safety Initiatives

Recent accidents in Austin have some scratching their heads. There have been 49 traffic fatalities in Austin in 2016. Officials say 10 of those were caused by unlicensed drivers. In Austin’s deadliest year, 32 of the 102 fatal crashes were caused by drivers who were driving with a suspended license or no driver’s license at all.

Now in a recent attempt to curb accidents that could have been prevented if the driver just wasn’t behind the wheel – Austin Police Department has requested the ability to impound the vehicle of an unlicensed driver. Under a new proposal officers would be able to impound a vehicle if the driver was involved in an accident or stopped for a traffic violation and found that they had two prior moving violations. Even if it is found that the driver during the accident was not the owner of the vehicle, police would still be able to impound the vehicle.

An investigative report by KXAN, revealed that a reporter tracked a man appearing to court for charges of driving with a suspended license. When the man left court, he got into a vehicle registered to a family member and drove away.

Notable Cases Involving Unlicensed Drivers in Austin:

  • Elizabeth English – a University of Texas at Austin student was hit and dragged by a driver in East Austin while she was riding her bike. English suffered a leg amputation following the injury – but the driver almost got away while she was recovering in the hospital. If it hadn’t been for an off-duty cop that noticed a vehicle with blood on it sitting in a driveway, the driver may have never been identified. The suspect vehicle was pulled over for a traffic stop, where Artemio Avila was questioned about the crash. He initially claimed not to know anything about it, but later admitted to the car-vs-bicycle accident and failing to stop and render aid. The truck didn’t belong to Avila, and the owner of the vehicle did have vehicle insurance.However it’s not likely that Avila had a valid driver’s license. Reports show that the driver was detained for failure to stop and render aid, as well as an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Detainer. The agency said that “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) placed a detainer with Travis County Jail on Artemio Gomez-Avla on March 31. ICE is focused on smart and effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes the removal of convicted criminal aliens, recent border crossers and immigration fugitives who have failed to comply with final orders of removal issued by the nation’s immigration courts.”
  • One life was changed, and another was lost on May 27, 2015. The driver of a 1989 Honda Civic was driving even though he had been stopped twice before for driving with a suspended license. In both cases he pleaded no contest. But still, Travis Baromeo drove on W. William Cannon and Cooper lane, at a speed almost 20 miles over the speed limit. His vehicle slammed into the front of an SUV driven by another young man.Baromeo lost his life that night. And the other young man has injuries and a tragic memory he will never be able to shake.

Do you think that police should be able to tow vehicles of driver’s whose licenses have been suspended? The attorneys at McMinn Law Firm believe that driving is a privilege, not a right. Drivers who do not value the safety of their community by adhering to traffic safety laws should not be out on the road.

Vision Zero: A City-wide Safety Initiative

Vision Zero in Austin is an initiative that calls all parts of government to do their part in reducing fatal car accidents. Austin is set to vote on a Prop. 1 in the upcoming election. The measure would upgrade many of Austin’s most trafficked roads into “smart corridors.” It’s modern road designs that are intended to relieve the city from some of the most dreadful traffic congestion its seen in recent years. The city’s rapid growth is largely to blame for the long commute home. But it’s also no accident that the city has some of the most congested roadways – Austin has seen as much as 3% population growth in recent years.

The Smart Corridors proposal is just the latest in Austin’s Vision Zero Safety initiatives. It continues the work of all city departments to reduce traffic deaths. Before the Austin saw the most dangerous year in the city’s history, city officials created the Vision Zero task force. We’ve outlined a history, complete with an infographic, in order to show the developments in Austin’s Vision Zero groundwork.

You can read more about the city’s history of vision zero proposals, and view an infographic about it at McMinn Law Firm.

Pedestrian Accident: How APD Is Preventing Injury with Vision Zero

Keeping Austin’s streets safe by limiting the number of unlicensed drivers is not the only way that officers are looking to reduce traffic fatalities in Austin. One month into 2015, Austin had already seen four pedestrian accident fatalities. Failure to obey traffic laws and distracted driving prompted Austin Police Department to launch a Vision Zero Pedestrian Safety Initiative, as part of the ‘arrive alive’ campaign. The focus was on pedestrians and motorists. APD expanded enforcement of laws that prohibit pedestrians from crossing high-speed roadways, while also targeting motorists who fail to yield when pedestrians have the right of way.

Concurrent to enforcing safe roadway practices, APD has released a list of safety tips they believed would curb pedestrian-involved auto accidents.

Pedestrian Safety Tips:

  • Only cross at designated locations (crosswalks/pedestrian bridges)
  • Follow the directions of pedestrian control devices
  • Never try to cross high speed roadways not designed for pedestrians crossing
  • Pay attention while crossing the street
  • Try to avoid distractions while crossing the roadway like texting, making phone calls or tinkering with personal electronic devices
  • Always look twice before crossing any roadway or intersection
  • Be polite and courteous
  • Be aware of drivers turning left

Motorist Safety Tips

  • Look both ways to ensure the roadway and sidewalks are clear of pedestrians, bicyclists and others sharing the road before proceeding from any intersection or private drive
  • Don’t block intersections or crosswalks
  • Don’t drive distracted! Austin’s new hands-free ordinance prohibits the use of cell phones unless using the hands-free mode
  • Be polite and courteous
  • Be aware of pedestrians crossing while making left turns

Austin Unlicensed Driver Accident Lawyers

Dangerous drivers cause harm on Austin’s streets. Reckless driving behavior should not be tolerated by friend and family. The community of Austin is at risk when drivers are not held accountable for their hurtful actions. In the event of an accident with an unlicensed driver, legal action can hold negligent parties accountable.

Attorneys Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn are experienced with pedestrian-involved car accidents; if you or a loved one have been involved in an accident, call the office of McMinn Law Firm for a free consultation.