AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officials from the City of Austin’s Vision Zero program reported a 30% reduction in crashes this year on improved roadways, compared to 2021. Lewis Leff, Austin Transportation Department’s transportation safety officer, delivered new findings during a public safety commission meeting Monday.
Overall, the Vision Zero program found an uptick in combined fatal and serious injury crashes this year, with the total number up 4% in 2022 compared to 2021. Approximately 52% of serious or fatal crashes happened between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., with 62% of pedestrian fatalities happening during those same overnight hours.
Comparing city-owned versus state-owned roadways, state-owned roads account for a higher volume of serious injury and fatal crashes, he said.
When looking at overall city trends, both the number of pedestrian and motorcyclist serious injuries and fatalities have increased in 2022 compared to 2021. Leff said pedestrian serious injury and fatal crashes lead ahead of severe and fatal motorcycle crashes — a new trend emerging.
This comes as national data shows an overall increase in fatalities, approaching a 20% increase over 10-year period, Leff said.
But along roadways that have undergone safety improvements, Leff said the program is seeing a decline in both overall crashes and serious injury and fatal crashes. Thirteen intersections have undergone improvements, with a 31% decrease in serious injury and fatal crashes along those improved roads.
Some of those enhancements include reduced speed limits, altering left turn signals and adding protected turn options as well as adding leading pedestrian intervals. Those pedestrian intervals give residents more time to cross a roadway before a light turns green and oncoming or turning traffic enters the road.
“Knowing what’s happening at the same period of time at different locations that are similar, the ones where we have invested money and done treatments are seeing significant reductions compared to the ones where we’re not doing that,” Leff said. “So it’s a really positive outcome.”