It is no secret to people living in Austin that the traffic congestion has reached nearly unbearable levels over the last several years. While this is quite an inconvenience for motorists in the City and surrounding areas, it is also dangerous. Traffic related fatalities in Austin have increased each of the last four years, topping out at a record 102 fatalities in 2015.
So, what has the City done to deal with this crisis? In short...nothing. That's the conclusion of a recently released Transportation Effectiveness Audit published to the Austin Mayor and City Council last month. The Audit found the City woefully lacking in undertaking proactive traffic safety measures.
Specifically, the Audit concluded that the City does not coordinate well among the various agencies that deal with transportation, traffic, or traffic collision investigations. In addition to the lack of coordination among various departments and agencies, no system is in place to collect and analyze vehicle crash data--even those that result in fatalities.
Wouldn't it be nice to know that the City was analyzing crash data and addressing consistently dangerous roadways in our community? Some dangerous roadways have received sporadic attention from the City in terms of adding medians, turn lanes, and strategically placed traffic lights. But according to the Audit, the City is far too often reactive to these problems and not proactive.
Regarding traffic fatalities, Robert Spillar, the director of Austin's transportation department, said one of the things the department is doing to reduce that number is to create an engineer division that is solely focused on traffic safety. Spillar also noted that the department is addressing the Audit's finding regarding the City's failure to fully analyze crash information to help prevent traffic deaths.
"We are expanding our data capability to better analyze those fatalities," Spillar said.
In the meantime, safety on our roadways depends on all of us! So remember to always drive with caution and courtesy for your fellow motorists. If you are injured in an Austin car wreck, visit our website to find out what you need to do to protect your rights.