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Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT: Cameron Road is one of 13 roads the Austin Transportation Department considers "high injury."

New online dashboard tracks traffic crash trends in Austin

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 by Samuel King

The Austin Transportation Department has unveiled a new tool for the public to track the number of traffic crashes, injuries and deaths in the city. The Vision Zero Viewer allows people to see where the most crashes are happening and how the numbers this year compare to years past.

“This is a continuation of our efforts around how do we best reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities that really are preventable in our community,” Lewis Leff, transportation safety officer, said. “It’s an unnecessarily high number. You can see some of the progress we’ve made, but you can also see the complex challenge ahead of us.”

The numbers on the dashboard run through June 30. The lag is intentional for quality-control purposes, Leff said. It also includes numbers from other law enforcement agencies besides the Austin Police Department.

The dashboard showed the number of traffic fatalities in Austin at 42, up from 40 over the same period last year. APD reports the trend held through July, with 54 fatalities reported compared to 46 last year.

At the same time, total crashes are down from 8,560 during the first six months of 2019, to 6,125 this year. The number of crashes involving pedestrians and motorcyclists are down as well. Leff cited safety efforts like changes in the timing of crosswalk signals downtown as possible reasons.

“We’re doing a lot of work in that area, and hopefully we’re starting to see some of that result, but again, there’s a lot of complicating factors to say with a 100 percent certainty that we know exactly what that reason is for this point,” he said.

The data also shows that men and people of color are overrepresented compared to their population as victims of serious injury crashes.

The dashboard brings some behind-the-scenes work among analysts at ATD to the public. The data is being used to inform decisions about mitigation efforts across the city. The department is placing signs along 13 high-injury roadways, including Slaughter Lane, Pleasant Valley Road and Cameron Road.

The roads are also being targeted for other improvements like traffic signal upgrades, improved street lighting and refreshed roadway markings and crosswalks.

“The data leads to insights which leads to action, which is really a critical piece to it all,” Leff said.

Speed limits have also been reduced on several roads across the city in an effort to increase safety.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT.

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