Police Chief Art Acevedo made a public statement on Tuesday asking Austin residents to make “better choices” behind the wheel in an effort to stem the high rate of traffic deaths. In his speech, Acevedo reported that 67 people have died this year in traffic-related accidents, which represents an alarming increase from the 37 deaths that occurred in 2014.
Acevedo’s talk came just one day after a car accident on Slaughter Lane resulted in the 67th death this year. The victim was struck by another driver who was attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Slaughter Lane in South Austin. Acevedo expressed his frustration with the current state of Austin drivers when he said, “Every single fatality is preventable…people aren’t making better choices.” He went on to explain that the solution to this problem ultimately rests in the public’s hands, stating that the deaths can only be curtailed if drivers start to implement safer practices behind the wheel.
Acevedo went on to enumerate the multiple programs and campaigns designed to help raise awareness and prevent deadly traffic accidents. Additionally, the City of Austin’s Planning and Zoning and Transportation Departments have committed to working with police in a concerted effort to eliminate fatal accidents. The Vision Zero Task Force is a newly-formed, 60 member group dedicated to identifying patterns from the past five years in order to develop and implement solutions. They are expected to present a plan to the City of Austin by the end of 2015 or early in 2016. The task force has already released a map of the deadliest locations and intersections for car and bike collisions, highlighting the downtown area as one of the riskiest.