aerial view of austin streets

Austin’s Traffic-Related Fatality Problem

So far this year, 82 people have died on Austin’s roads. While this city is growing and makes many “best of” lists, we’ve also climbed the ladder as the 13th most dangerous city for traffic for cities over 500k. City officials and organizations such as Vision Zero Task Force have taken note, and are beginning to unravel how we reached this number so they can identify strategies for traffic-fatality prevention.

Statistics: Making Sense of Austin’s Traffic Fatality Numbers

This year the number of traffic related fatalities surpassed any other years in as early as late July.  When you live in a city where the headlines are constantly graced with traffic related fatalities, it’s obvious to wonder why this is happening, and what you can do to avoid the most dangerous intersections.

This map, developed by Vision Zero Task Force, helps provide insights into where and when traffic fatalities occur on Austin, Texas streets.

What We Know About Austin, Texas Traffic Fatalities

As of October 2015, the total number of traffic related deaths rests at 82. (In 2014, the total number of traffic fatalities was 62.) Let’s take a look at where traffic related deaths occurred in 2015:

  • 1 death | Bicyclist
  • 12 deaths | motorcyclists
  • 25 deaths | pedestrians
  • 44 deaths | motor-vehicle deaths

After looking at this data, we have found that most traffic related fatalities have occurred at night. But what’s more interesting is that every Austin council district has experienced a traffic related fatality. Nearly a third of all of Austin’s traffic related fatalities were pedestrian deaths.

Disproportionate to other districts, pedestrian deaths occur in low income areas on high-speed roadways. Our urban center holds a bleak sentence for pedestrians in low income neighborhoods – a trend that’s not unique to this Texas city.

These statistics show us that when traffic moves out to the suburbs, the fatalities experienced in 2015 have occurred more often to motorcyclists and motor vehicle drivers than compared to what was seen in urban areas.

The Reasons Why Austin’s Motor-Vehicle Deaths Occur

Preventing the number of traffic related deaths in Austin is key to city council officials, so looking at every aspect of why these deaths occur is widely important to key decision makers. We can look beyond the location, and into the cause of the accident.


Need for Speed contributes to Austin’s Traffic Related deaths

The number one cause for traffic related fatalities between 2010-2014 is speed. Improper movements (like lane changing) or failure to yield to right of together make up 14% of traffic fatalities. Unsurprisingly, 12% of traffic related fatalities occurred due to driver inattention or distraction or drugs and alcohol. These numbers can provide some insight, however 44% of cases list no contributing factor. Further investigation of traffic related fatalities may provide valuable tools for Austin’s City Council to implement new policies and create safer streets in the Austin-metro area.

A Goal for Zero:

Vision Zero Task Force’s Traffic Fatality Prevention

With Vision Zero, Austin hopes to build on initiatives towards zero traffic related fatalities in the city. Between urban and more suburban areas of the city, the roads and goals differ. However Vision Zero’s set of principles still apply.

  • No traffic related deaths or injuries are acceptable because all are preventable
  • People will make mistakes. The city’s transportation system should be designed so that people’s mistakes are not fatal.
  • In transportation decision-making, Safety is the primary goal and consideration
  • A holistic approach must be considered when planning and implementing traffic safety solutions

The creation of Austin’s Vision Zero occurred in 2014. Creation of the task force was initiated by the Pedestrian Advisory Council in 2014, and received widespread support from numerous departments and community groups who all saw the need for Austin’s traffic safety issues to be addressed in a holistic manner.

While the task force’s official recommendations are slated to come out this November, Austin drivers can begin fighting traffic accidents immediately by choosing not to drink and drive and driving cautiously for potentially dangerous conditions such as darkness and weather.

To learn more about this issue, read our post about Austin’s deadliest year.