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Public Safety Commission forms working group to discuss Vision Zero

Monday, May 13, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Vision Zero’s goal is to reduce the number of people who die or are seriously injured in traffic crashes to zero. To help achieve this objective, commissioners Kathleen Hausenfluck and Preston Tyree formed a working group at the May 6 meeting of the Public Safety Commission. “On a per capita basis (the number of deaths) is actually coming down pretty well,” said Tyree. However, he pointed out that as the population of Austin grows, so will the number of people involved in traffic accidents. He pointed to 2015 when there was a significant jump in traffic fatalities: from 63 to 102 deaths. That year was also the first time 50 percent of fatalities occurred outside of vehicles. Tyree explained that “a big part of the crash rate can be associated with distracted driving.” He also noted that distracted walking contributes to some of the accidents. While he said one way to lower the number of serious and fatal incidences is increased enforcement, first and foremost, Austin needs to engineer its streets to be safer and more shareable. The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan promotes a transportation network design that is mindful of Vision Zero goals. Commissioner Daniela Nuñez said that from personal experience in her district, improved street conditions for pedestrians and cyclists are crucial. “Get those transportation improvements for pedestrians, because it’s long overdue,” she said.

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