Two accident reports shared
By KIM ESTES
Four Points News
Traffic accidents on RM 2222 between RM 620 and McNeil Drive decreased by 51 percent from January through June of this year compared to the same time last year. However crashes – although low in number – have almost doubled on Four Points Drive, according to information from the Austin Police Department.
Neither the Texas Department of Transportation, with jurisdiction for RM 2222, nor APD, with oversight of Four Points Drive, can account for the differences. There were no changes in signage or signals on the roadways for the first six months of the year. Neither group is aware of an increase in patrols, said their respective law enforcement public information officers.
Also, it is not known if there has been an increase or decrease in traffic on either road. Traffic counts on RM 2222 for January through June of this year will not be available until next year, said Diann Hodges, TxDOT public information officer. Also, there are no records yet for the same period for Four Points Drive, said Joana Perez, Austin Transportation Department administrative specialist.
Regardless, information from the APD/TxDOT Dataset and Fatality Database show that crashes on RM 2222 from January to June 2016 equaled 39. That number dropped to 19 for the same time in 2017.
Simultaneously, drivers may think it worthy for awareness, accidents on Four Points Drive increased from four crashes to seven.
RM 2222 and Four Points Drive border opposite sides of Four Points Centre, a shopping area with an H-E-B, Starbucks, Austin Vision Center and several other retailers. Target, located essentially behind H-E-B but fronting RM 2222, is also accessible via a shared parking lot.
Local accident victims
One of this year’s accident victims, Diane Bernard of Steiner Ranch, said she typically exits the shopping center by way of Four Points Drive, but on April 10 she went to the opposite side to exit onto RM 2222, usually a more congested roadway.
“I didn’t feel like there was that much traffic that day, so I went to 2222,” she said.
Bernard was waiting to turn onto the state road when a westbound driver stopped in traffic motioned an eastbound driver, who was attempting to turn left into Target, across the road. Unfortunately, there was an oncoming car in the inside westbound lane that hit the crossing vehicle, which then crashed into Bernard’s car.
“My head hit the window, and the car spun around,” Bernard said. “I had a concussion. I lost the ability to speak, organize my work and I had migraines.”
Her car was also totaled.
Additionally, on Four Points Drive, Stephen LaPoint’s wife experienced a non-injury wreck but a frustrating scene.
“A driver pulled out of the H-E-B strip mall area onto Four Points Drive right in front of my wife who was heading east. In lieu of impacting this driver’s vehicle broadside, my wife swerved and hit the center median, substantially damaging her car, but avoiding potentially very serious injury to the other driver. Fortunately, other than the trauma of the incident, my wife was not injured,” said the Long Canyon resident.
However, the driver of the car that crossed in front of LaPoint did not stop and render aid. “Incredibly, the offending driver proceeded to simply drive around my wife’s disabled car and continue her turn west on Four Points Drive, as if nothing had occurred,” Stephen LaPoint said.
Bernard said those involved in the accident with her were empathetic. “We are experienced drivers who were just trying to help each other get through traffic,” she said.
The incident was not Bernard’s first accident in the area. Four years ago, she was involved in a wreck at RM 2222 and River Place Boulevard. She said she has also had several near misses, collisions she avoided by making sudden stops.
Tips to decrease accidents
“I would really like to see these accidents stop in our neighborhood. I see people walking from the apartments, crossing 2222 with children. Where are the warning signs for pedestrians crossing or to not turn left? Is there a city official we can contact to help get better signs, warnings and signals?” asked Bernard.
According to Hodges, requests to TxDOT can be made via email at Austininfo@txdot.gov. For the city of Austin, residents should call 311, the city’s non-emergency information center where service requests are received, said Marissa Monroy, Austin Transportation Department public information and marketing manager.
For now, however, APD senior police officer, Veneza Bremner, said crashes are preventable. “Drivers should always be paying attention to the task at hand, which is driving. Inattention, following too close and speed is generally the cause of accidents. Leave more space, pay attention, put phones away and leave to give yourself more time to get where you are going,” said Bremner.