AUSTIN (KXAN) — This weekend’s game was expected to sell out most if not all of Austin’s 410 hotels.
With so many extra people in Austin this weekend for the Texas-Alabama game, you can expect major crowds of people walking and lots of extra cars on the road around campus, and throughout the city.
KXAN Traffic Anchor Erica Brennes took a closer look at the number of pedestrians killed in Texas, as The Texas Department of Transportation is hoping to raise awareness during its “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign.
The University of Texas Campus is full of Longhorn and Crimson Tide Fans, “I’m excited, for one about the atmosphere, seeing the campus, this is my first trip to Austin.”
But the excitement from fans needs to be tempered with a focus on safety.
The TxDOT campaign is urging Texans to follow laws for safe driving, walking and biking.
Last year alone—in Texas, 841 people died in pedestrian-related traffic crashes, an increase of 15% from 2020. Crashes involving bicyclists killed 92 people.
Erica asked Glynda Chu, a TxDOT Spokesperson what happens if the numbers keep going up. “Well, I think if we had the magic, the answer to that we wouldn’t be in this situation, we would have stopped it years ago.”
In cities like Portland, Oregon, it’s widely known that drivers must stop at crosswalks when a pedestrian is present, or they risk getting a ticket. That certainly isn’t the case in Austin, or throughout the state of Texas.
“We’re not the enforcer it comes from the state legislature, our laws, the police are the ones that enforce this text that is not our met our place is just to provide information and continue on to make the safest roads possible with our engineers,” Chu said.
The responsibility falls on the driver, the pedestrians and the cyclists to practice safety.
“It’s going to take a lot of work with everybody out there EMS, people giving their messages to be safe law enforcement. I mean, everybody, we all have to join together, it’s what I keep saying is that we can’t do this alone,” Chu said.
Currently, it is against the law to not stop at a crosswalk when a pedestrian is present. Last year, the Lisa Torry Smith Act went into effect. It’s named after Texas mom, Lisa Torry Smith, who was struck and killed in a crosswalk while walking her six-year-old son to school, the law requires that drivers stop and yield the right of way to people in crosswalks. Motorists who fail to stop and yield and cause serious injury to someone in a crosswalk can face criminal penalties.
If you’re concerned about the safety of pedestrians or cyclists in your neighborhood, start by calling 3-1-1 to report it.