AUSTIN (KXAN) – City of Austin Vision Zero program officials report a 30% reduction in accidents after road improvements this year compared to 2021. Lewis Leff, traffic safety officer for the Department of Transportation of Austin, presented the new findings Monday at a public safety committee meeting.
Overall, the Vision Zero program has found that combined fatal and serious crashes have increased this year, with total crashes up 4% in 2022 compared to 2021. Some 52% of serious or fatal crashes are occur between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., with 62% of pedestrian fatalities occurring during the same nighttime hours.
He said when comparing urban roads to state-owned roads, the number of serious injuries and fatalities on state-owned roads was higher.
In terms of overall urban trends, there will be an increase in serious injuries and fatalities among pedestrians and motorcyclists in 2022 compared to 2021. Serious pedestrian injuries and fatal accidents precede serious and fatal motorcycle accidents — a new trend that’s emerging, Leff said.
That’s because national data shows an overall increase in deaths, of almost 20% over a 10-year period, Leff said.
But on roads that have been made safer, the program has seen a drop in overall crashes, as well as serious injuries and fatalities, Leff said. Improvements have been made at thirteen intersections and serious injuries and fatalities have been reduced by 31% along these improved roads.
Some of these improvements include lowered speed limits, changed left turn signals, added protected turn options, and increased the gap between leading pedestrians. These pedestrian spaces give residents more time to cross the road before the light turns green and oncoming or turning vehicles enter the roadway.
“Knowing what’s happening in similar different places over the same period, we’re investing a lot less money and doing treatment in fewer places than where we’re not,” Leff said. “So this is a very positive result. “