A recent investigation by KXAN revealed that taxpayers in Austin are on track to pay more than $800,000 in liability claims this year for accidents caused by City of Austin employees driving city-owned vehicles.
As of fiscal year 2014, the City of Austin has already paid more than $431,000 for 158 damage claims made against it.
KXAN discovered that:
- Since 2009, Austin has paid out $4.5 million in liability claims for vehicle accidents
- Austin paid over $860,000 in claims in 2012
- Austin nearly paid $778,000 in claims in 2013
KXAN compared the cost of claims paid out in the last few years in Austin to the city of Jacksonville, Florida. Jacksonville is similar in size with Austin and it has about the same number of city-owned vehicles. KXAN found that Jacksonville paid half to a third as much as Austin in liability claims.
What is the City of Austin Doing to Keep Their Employees From Driving Recklessly?
So far this year, there have been 139 auto collisions caused by city workers. The Austin Public Works (APW) department is responsible for 30 of those wrecks, according to KXAN.
Howard Lazarus, the head of APW, told KXAN that he recently required all APW staff members to attend a driver safety refresher course. Additionally, Lazarus has linked job promotions to safe driving records and has limited the number of hours employees can spend on job sites.
The APW is the only department in Austin that has taken these measures to ensure all motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists are safe when city employees are driving city-owned vehicles. Unfortunately, the Austin Resource Recovery (ARR) department and the Austin Water (AW) department have worse records than the APW, and still have done nothing to improve safety, according to KXAN.
Hopefully, other departments in the City of Austin will adopt similar strategies for reducing the number of collisions their employees cause, thus making out streets safer.
The Law Offices of Aaron Allison – Austin Personal Injury Attorney