Almost two weeks ago, a pickup truck smashed into a man in his 60’s in a fatal pedestrian accident. However, the driver who struck the man stayed at the scene of the accident and fully cooperated with the police investigation. Unfortunately, the driver was the only witness to the accident and as of yet, there have been no criminal charges filed against him.
In a previous blog, we mentioned that last year had the highest number of reported pedestrian deaths Austin has seen since 2012, which was considered the worst year for traffic accidents and pedestrians. Unfortunately, it looks like Austin may be on the fast track to beating last year’s total number of pedestrian fatalities given that last year, 30 pedestrians died by being hit by a vehicle. So far this year, eight pedestrians have died.
What is the City of Austin Doing to Reduce the Number of Pedestrian Accidents?
Last November, Austin joined the Vision Zero Initiative by creating a planning and zoning department exclusively dedicated to reducing the number of traffic accidents by creating change in the following:
- Education and awareness
- Engineering for transportation and infrastructure
According to the Vision Zero initiative, any injuries or deaths caused by traffic accidents are mostly preventable because the transportation system should be designed so that mistakes made while driving do not result in death.
Lawmakers also passed a hands-free ordinance to reduce the amount of distracted drivers on the road, which is a primary cause of pedestrian accidents. The “Don’t Block the Box” law was also passed in hopes of reducing the number of pedestrian accidents. Additionally, police are trying to increase enforcement for jaywalkers in order to encourage pedestrians to correctly use crosswalks and wait until it is safe to cross the streets.
However, these efforts do not seem to be having an effect on pedestrian fatalities. We are more than one-third of the way through 2016 and already almost one-third of the way to matching the number of pedestrian deaths from 2015, if not surpassing it. That being said, the city could do more, such as installing more crosswalks across town and reducing the speed limit in high-volume pedestrian zones.