Austin Car Accident Fatalities Continue to Rise

Across all roadways in Austin, there has been an uptick in the number of crashes resulting in fatalities in 2015. One headline from August reported Police: More people are dying on Austin roads this year.  At that time, there were a reported 67 deaths.

Car_AccidentTo recap just some of what we have seen in the area in just the past six months:

  • A two car, two pedestrian accident leaves two dead
  • David Crunk, 48, was involved in a fatal motorcycle collision.
  • Two children, ages 10 and 15 killed in an accident after the driver of a pickup truck failed to slow
  • Pedestrian and Army Sgt. Derek Pagan, 29 was killed in a fatal hit and run collision
  • Two-vehicle crash leaves 40 year old victim dead
  • Texas sculptor Jesus Moroles, dies in car crash with tractor trailer
  • One dead in nine vehicle wreck
  • Motorcyclist killed in DWI crash
  • Five family members dead after rollover accident
  • Two dead after DWI crash
  • Veteran killed by wrong-way driver
  • High school football player killed in motor vehicle accident

According to a media report from local channel KXAN, Austin Police Department records indicate 1,188 DWI and DUI collisions in 2015 compared to 1,080 collisions in 2014. So far of those numbers of collisions 20 were fatal this year and 19 were fatal by this time last year. The APD further reports that the number of deaths on the road as of August is almost double numbers from the same time frame in 2014

Austin Police Department released the following information specific to annual traffic fatalities in Austin:


Austin’s Public Safety Commission has been collecting data specific to these accidents for tracking and measurement purposes. The following data was gathered through month ending August, 2015 (most recent available):

  • 38 % of fatal crashes are on high speed roadways with 10% on Interstate Highway 35
  • 62% on local streets

Time of Day

  • 6am – 12noon is 15%
  • Noon-6pm is 5%
  • 6pm-Midnight is 36%
  • Midnight to 6am is 44%

Day of the Week

  • Sunday – 29%
  • Monday – 15%
  • Tuesday- 10%
  • Wednesday- 17%
  • Thursday – 5%
  • Friday- 15%
  • Saturday – 10%

Contributing Factors

  • 56% of fatal crashes had impairment as a factor (alcohol and/or drugs)
  • 65% of those were driver impairment; 32% were pedestrian impairment
  • 45% of fatal motorcycle crashes involved no helmet
  • 39% of motor vehicle crashes involved no seatbelt

Pedestrian Fatality Factor Breakdown

  • Crossing where prohibited
  • Failing to yield to vehicles in the roadway
  • Impairment or distraction
  • Possible suicides

Motor Vehicle Fatality Factor Breakdown

  • Speeding
  • Impairment
  • No Seat Belt
  • Pedestrian crossing where prohibited
  • Fail to Stop and Render AID
  • Ran Red Light

Motorcycle Fatality Factor Breakdown

  • Driver inattention
  • Speed
  • Impairment
  • Failed to yield the right of way to the motorcycle

Speed stands out as the number one and number two contributing factors in both motor vehicle and motorcycle fatalities. In various studies performed by multiple agencies, speed has been identified as a major risk factor in the incidence of accidents and the severity of injuries as a result of those collisions. It is estimated that speed is attributed to an average of 30% of roadway deaths. Consider the following:

  • The higher the speed, the shorter the driver’s reaction time
  • An increase in speed of 1.5 miles per hour results in a 3% increase in crash risk and a 4-5% increase in fatality risk
  • Speed contributes to the severity of the impact
  • 50 miles per hour upon impact is estimated to increase chances of death by 20 times when compared to 32 miles per hour impact

According to the National Safety Council, crashes related to speeding are said to cost society $40.4 billion per year. That equates to $76,865 per minute or $1,281 per second. The economic costs are tremendous, but so are the costs in lives. The most recent available Census data specific to speeding-related fatalities (2009) reveals 10,591 deaths nationwide. California had the second highest death toll in the nation with 1,087.  Texas took the top spot with 1,228. The highest concentration of accidents was non-interstate at speeds in excess of 55 miles per hour.

The Vision Zero Taskforce, an initiative adopted by Austin to drastically reduce transportation-related injuries, reports Austin currently ranks as the 13th most dangerous city for traffic and the 7th most dangerous city for pedestrians, with greater than 700 people killed on Austin roadways since 2004. The taskforce, through a combination of strategies to include education, enforcement, and engineering, seek to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. Initiated in Austin by the Pedestrian Advisory Council in 2014 and supported by numerous departments and community groups, the taskforce embraces four key principles:

  • Traffic deaths and injuries are preventable; therefore, none are acceptable
  • People will make mistakes; the transportation system should be designed so those mistakes aren’t fatal
  • Safety is the primary consideration in transportation decision-making
  • Traffic safety solutions must be addressed holistically

There is no doubt that every member of the community plays a role in preventing traffic fatalities. The following are some safety tips for the general public can use avoid being party to an accident:

  • Use your safety belt – even when not in the driver or passenger seat.
  • Never drive drunk or under the influence of narcotics – even prescription narcotics can have a negative effect.
  • Do not drive drowsy or sleepy
  • Avoid speeding – driving just five per hour over the limit increases your likelihood of a collision by 25%
  • Alleviate distractions including phones, noisy passengers, food…anything that keeps your eyes and mind off the road
  • Take extra care in bad weather
  • Do not tailgate – maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of you
  • Watch for unsafe drivers and unexpected road conditions
  • Be patient – aggressive driving can cause a situation to escalate and turn into an accident very quickly

The Loewy Law family has seen the devastation that accidents cause. Though we owe it to one another to watch our surroundings and use care – and most people do – accidents still happen. In those instances, you can turn to the Loewy Law Firm to help you work with the insurance companies, navigate the legal system, and understand your rights.