AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of people dying after getting hit by cars while running across I-35 in Austin is on pace to nearly double last year’s total.
The most recent deadly crash, the city’s 10th of the year on I-35, came on Saturday when an 18-wheeler hit a man trying to run across the interstate near U.S. 183.
With that fatality, Austin tied the total number of people hit and killed on I-35 during all of 2018.
Thomas Jones is a homeless man who stays in the area and knows the man who died. Jones admitted he runs across the freeway himself plenty.
“I know the times the traffic slows down, and when to watch, and all that,” Jones said. “I know when to [cross].”
Austin Police Detective Patrick Oborski admits pedestrian bridge crossings over I-35 are limited, which is part of the problem. He doesn’t know what’s causing the increase but said the people running across are often homeless.
“At this point in the game, just kind of expect it,” Oborski said. “Expect someone to run out in front of you so, drive very defensively, keep an eye on the shoulders.”
To try and discourage the trend, TxDOT added ‘No Crossing’ signs on I-35 near 51st Street. They’re on both the service road and center median.
Data shows I-35 is much more dangerous at night and early morning when it comes to these type of deaths. Nineteen of the last 20 fatalities happened between 10:30 p.m. and 6:45 a.m.
Jones said losing a friend is enough for him to stop the dangerous behavior.
“I won’t do it no more man, it’s dangerous, but some people do it,” he said.