It has been the deadliest year in Austin’s history with regard to traffic fatalities, and, with many residents traveling over the holidays, local law enforcement agencies are working to keep that number from rising.
“This year is sadly proving to be one of the bloodiest in many, many years,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.
On Dec. 15, the city had its 85th traffic fatality when a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in the 12800 Block of Pearce Lane, near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. According to police reports, a male pedestrian was standing in the middle of the road after dark when he was struck by a traveling vehicle.
The previous record for most traffic fatalities in a single year in Austin was 81, set in 1986. In 2014, there were 37 traffic deaths.
Acevedo said he does not want to see anyone else lose their life this year.
“(I hope) not one more person ends up in intensive care, not one more person ends up in the morgue, not one more person ends up in jail for making poor choices like drinking and driving,” Acevedo said.
Earlier this month, more than 25 local law enforcement agencies announced a traffic initiative called “Arrive Alive Central Texas’ Fifth Home for the Holidays Traffic Safety Initiative and APD DWI Enforcement Initiative.”
The New Year’s initiative will involve additional patrols and DWI no-refusal. More than half of this year’s traffic fatalities have been DWI related.
“That means if you get arrested for DWI in the city of Austin, we will get the evidence. We will get what we need to bring you to justice and to get a conviction,” Acevedo said.
Last year’s campaign resulted in more than 32,000 traffic stops.
“Combined operations in 2014 resulted in a 22 percent reduction in serious injury and fatal crashes in Austin,” Acevedo said.
Texas leads the nation for the most vehicle crashes. Austin leads the nation in the city that consumes the most alcohol.
In Four Points, there has been a dramatic spike in the number of accidents, including some fatalities, this year. While the Four Points area did not have any traffic fatalities in 2014, there were three fatalities in 2015, all occurring on RM 2222.
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.
Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20, 2015, there were 173 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.Out of those, 100 were non-injury crashes, with the majority happening on RM 620.
Between Jan 1 and Aug. 20, 2014, there were 137 vehicle crashes within the same area.
Acevedo said safety begins with personal responsibility.
“Safety starts with personal responsibility and safety starts with people realizing that when they get behind the wheel, they are in fact controlling a deadly weapon,” Acevedo said.