Spike in traffic accidents in Four Points this year, Austin has record traffic fatalities in 2015

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

When it comes to traffic fatalities, 2015 has been one of the deadliest in Austin history, and Four Points is contributing with its spike in accidents.

As of Aug. 21,  71 people have lost their lives as a result of traffic accidents this year, more than in all of last year. In 2014, there were 37 traffic deaths.

“Each and every one of those deaths was completely, absolutely preventable,” said Austin Police Department Chief Art Acevedo.

There has been a dramatic spike in the number of accidents, including some fatalities, in Four Points year.Traffic Accidents August 2015

Last year between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20, there were 137 vehicle crashes in the Four Points areas of RM 620 between Anderson Mill Road and Mansfield Dam, RM 2222 between RM 620 and the 360 bridge, and Bullick Hollow Road, according to Texas Department of Transportation data.

This year between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20, that same area has had 173 crashes or 36 more accidents, according to TxDOT. Out of those, 100 were non-injury crashes, with the majority happening on RM 620. Seven of the accidents resulted in serious injury and 35 resulted in minor injury.

Three of those accidents resulted in fatalities.

On March 23, William Ross Carter, 27, was killed and three people were injured in a multi-vehicle head-on car crash in the 9000 block of RM 2222. It was reported that Carter crossed the center line into oncoming traffic.

Exactly one week later, on March 30, motorcyclist Jessica Nicole Getz, 24, was hit and killed in the 7700 block of RM 2222 after a car turned in front of her.

A fatality on RM 2222 near McNeil Drive on July 15 just after 8 p.m. became Austin’s 59th fatality of the year. The driver of a white 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe was traveling northbound in the 9100 block of RM 2222, in the outside lane. A blue 2014 Toyota Prius was traveling northbound on RM 2222, in the inside lane. The driver of the Tahoe changed into the inside lane and rear-ended the Prius. The Tahoe then struck a black 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe, which was northbound in the outside lane.

Locally, this year is ahead of last year in the number of fatalities. Data shows there were no traffic fatalities in Four Points in 2014.

Acevedo said drinking and driving, overly-aggressive drivers and distracted driving are all major factors in the number of fatalities. Pedestrian safety is also a huge issue as 23 of this year’s fatalities were pedestrians. Acevedo said alcohol was suspected in nearly half of the pedestrian incidents.

Acevedo held a press conference on Aug. 11 to shine light on the problem and issue a call for action. While patrol officers can enforce the laws and issue citations, it is up to all residents to take responsibility for their behavior on the roadway.

“We are making the wrong choices in Austin, Texas.Too many people are making the wrong choices and as a result, we’re having too many people die,” Acevedo said. “We’re calling on all Austinites, whether you are using our highways as a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclists, a passenger vehicle driver or a commercial vehicle driver, we want you all to take a look in the mirror tonight when you get home and ask yourself, ‘Am I being personally responsible?’ Am I playing Russian Roulette with myself, the people riding in my car, my neighbor or the person around me?’

Vision Zero

A 60-member task force called Vision Zero has been formed to identify the primary causes of traffic fatalities, create educational campaigns and make recommendations as to short-term strategies the city can implement to help reduce the number of fatalities.

“The Vision Zero task force came together around the idea that one death is too many,” said Jennifer Denton, chairman of the task force.

The group has released an initial set of maps showing crash information based on five-year data. The map shows that downtown Austin is the riskiest spot for drivers and pedestrians. Denton said the task force’s action plan is expected to go before the Austin City Council in November for adoption.

Chief Acevedo wants the trend to reverse and for traffic accidents in Austin to decrease.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to continue doing our very best but the only ones who are going to make a difference are the people who we serve.”