AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’re driving down Cesar Chavez Street, you may notice a new mural displaying a mom and her daughter, a boy riding his bike and even some ducks. You’ll also spot a woman — she has one hand up, signaling those looking at her to stop. In the other, she’s holding a sign that reads: “Life is valuable please drive safe.”
That’s the message behind three new murals in support of Austin Transportation’s Vision Zero program. The murals aim to encourage drivers to pay attention to the road.
A second mural shares victims’ firsthand experiences, while the third mural simply reads “pay attention” in English and Spanish.
Lakeem Wilson is the artist behind the crosswalk mural. For Wilson, this project hits close to home: His coworker just had major surgery as a result of a car crash.
“Just recently, that happened,” he recalled about his friend’s crash. “It was the same theme we were focusing on in the murals — driving safe on the roads.”
Last year, 515 people were hurt badly on Austin roads. While it’s the lowest number for serious injuries since 2015 — not including 2020 — 2021 became the deadliest. There were 116 people who were killed on Austin’s roads, up 30% from 2019.
“We know from the data that there’s a few primary behaviors and factors that are leading to these injuries it really starts with speeds and speeding on our transportation system,” Joel Meyer, a transportation planner with Vision Zero.
Most recently, the city’s transportation department installed 14 Dynamic Speed Display Devices at seven locations across the city that have a history of severe crashes. Areas include East Riverside, South Congress, North Lamar Boulevard, Cesar Chavez Street and Parmer Lane.
City officials said the devices will stay up for a year to analyze data collected and are hoping these speed display devices will encourage drivers to slow down by making them aware of just how fast they’re going.
Wilson hopes his message will also have an impact on drivers.
“I really hope that they are able to see the mural and if they were texting on the phone or distracted at that moment, that they can get rid of those distractions,” Wilson said. “Encouraging drivers to understand the value of life.”