Never miss a story
Sign up for our free daily morning email...
...and afternoon text update
×
becomeMemberIcon

become a member

(David Hale Smith/CC)

Even with COVID-19 keeping hundreds of people at home for the bulk of 2020, traffic deaths reached the highest point they had seen since 2015 and official sources are citing speeding as a major cause.


News outlets started reporting high traffic fatality numbers in early 2020, before the pandemic even started. The year concluded with 94 traffic deaths, according to the Austin Police Department. Austin hasn't seen the death toll reach that high since it hit 102 in 2015.

Even though Austin drivers were largely off the roads—a 25-80% decrease throughout the year—the death count rose despite traffic experts expecting a decline.

What caused the deaths?

Many reports, like KUT, blame the increased death toll on increased speeding in the pandemic era. They reported that a person hit at 40 mph is five times more likely to be killed than someone hit at 24 mph and the roads are certainly less congested than they have been in years past. Austin Transportation Department reported that speeding is the primary contributor in 25% of accidents resulting in death.

Other reports show that police officers feel they are spread thin: the Austin American-Statesman reported that APD priorities have shifted, pulling officers looking for drunk drivers off of highways. During an eventful year, protests gripped the police department's gaze, especially from May to July.

What is the city planning to do?

The city rolled out plans to decrease speed limits and add speed mitigation treatments, like speed bumps, around Austin where necessary. The change is part of ATD's Vision Zero program, which hopes to reach zero traffic deaths by 2025.

The changes, which were finalized before the end of the year, reduced speed limits downtown from 30 to 25 mph and reduced residential streets under a certain width to 25 mph. A complete map of speed changes can be viewed here.


Popular

After two years of no in-person events, Austin festival South by Southwest has agreed to give 50% of ownership to P-MRC, a Los Angeles company that controls publishing operations for Rolling Stone and Billboard.

Keep Reading Show less

APD captures suspect of domestic violence killing Stephen Broderick. (Austin Police Department/Twitter)

Stephen Broderick is now in police custody for a suspected domestic violence incident that killed three in northwest Austin on Sunday.

After initially being called an active shooting incident, joint local law enforcement and more than 75 FBI agents proceeded with an almost day-long manhunt with three helicopters and on-ground teams for former Travis County deputy Broderick. Police captured him after a 911 caller reported a suspicious man walking along U.S. 290, where he was taken into custody.

Keep Reading Show less
(Hard Rock Stadium)

Formula 1 is returning to Florida for the first time since 1959, announcing that the brand-new Miami Grand Prix will join the calendar in 2022 and Austin will no longer be the only F1 race in the U.S.

Keep Reading Show less