APD Says Traffic Deaths Have Declined
By Era Sundar
The Austin Police Department says its recent initiatives to reduce traffic deaths are working.
Austin was off to a bad start this year. By June, there had already been 52 traffic-related deaths, just two fewer than in all of 2011. Sunday nights were especially deadly; that’s when 25 percent of the deaths occurred.
Police Chief Art Acevedo says those numbers led the department to focus on not only drivers but pedestrian behavior as well.
“Just last week I was on 290 when all of a sudden I see a male adult crossing a freeway with eight lanes to go shopping at Walmart,” Acevedo said. “It was a shortcut. You know what? The only thing that’s going to shorten is your lifespan.”
So APD cracked down on pedestrians and drivers alike by issuing more tickets and putting more officers on patrol, especially on Sundays.
Acevedo says these initiatives resulted in 500 traffic stops, and not a single person died on a Sunday. Since APD began focusing on pedestrians, Austin has averaged about one pedestrian death a month. It was three per month before the initiative started.
Acevedo says the department is trying to find funding to continue these measures.