This year has been Austin traffic’s deadliest year to date. Traffic fatalities have already surpassed last year’s 63 total traffic fatalities as well as 2012’s record of 78 total fatalities, and we still have three months in the year left to go. Deaths this year on Austin’s roads have left experts and local officials searching for answers. Although they have yet to find a definitive source for 2015’s surprising rise in traffic deaths, the Austin Transportation Department (ATD) has been able to identify the five most dangerous intersections in Austin.
Austin’s Most Dangerous Intersections
- West Slaughter Lane and Manchaca Road;
- Lamar Boulevard and Rundberg Lane;
- Lamar Boulevard and Parmer Lane;
- U.S. 183 Service Road and Cameron Road; and
- I-35 Service Road Southbound and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
ATD outlined in the same report that improving safety at these intersections would cost the city $3.8 million. Some suggested changes include adding raised medians, modifying turn lanes, and/or adding new lanes. These alterations aim to make streets safer for drivers as well as pedestrians by preventing unsafe turns, reducing speeds, and ensuring drivers yield when necessary. On September 12th, the Austin City Council approved a budget that included $4.9 million for transportation and mobility studies as well as $45.7 million for street, bridge, sidewalk, and trail improvements.
A particular concern with this year’s rapid rise in traffic fatalities is the unprecedented amount of crashes involving pedestrians. In each traffic fatality involving a pedestrian, unsurprisingly it was the pedestrian who lost their life. ATD Assistant Director Jim Dale has said that pedestrian fatalities in Austin are about twice the national average, adding that 95 percent occur in prohibited areas at night. The Pedestrian Safety Action plan is set to come out later this year to address the increase in pedestrian deaths and evaluate Austin roads and where improvements can be made to decrease pedestrian deaths.
Some officials see these statistics and call for greater accountability for Austin residents, while city planning and affordability advocates call for more pedestrian friendly streets. When not in the urban core, pedestrian crossings can sometimes be a mile apart, making the short trip across the road to the final destination more enticing than a mile walk.
These statistics are just a part of the ongoing debate about the future of Austin as a city — whether it will follow in the footsteps of other large Texas metroplexes with sprawling suburbs and a massive network of highways necessitating car ownership OR if it will adopt a more dense, urban plan with car ownership being unnecessary for city life. One thing’s for sure — with less cars on the road, traffic fatalities will surely decrease. But with Austin’s ever increasing population and the slow movement of any urban infrastructure development, any hope of decreasing individual car use is a fairly far off dream.
If you have been involved in a car accident, contact a lawyer to help with the many questions and negotiations you’ll be faced with afterward. Jason McMinn and Justin McMinn are happy to evaluate your case quickly and without cost. Call us at 512-474-0222, use the live chat on our website, fill out the form on this page, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.