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Candlelight Vigil Held for Traffic Deaths During Austin’s Deadliest Year: What Can Be Done?

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 8.59.21 AMWednesday, September 30, families and friends gathered alongside police officers to remember loved ones who have been killed this year in fatal traffic accidents. They held 81 candles – one for each tragic loss.

Our hearts go out to each and every one of these suffering families.

The Austin American-Statesman covered the story, and reported that this year has been almost twice as deadly as last year. It has even surpassed the earlier record of traffic deaths in one year… and it is only October.

Our law firm helps the families of those loved ones lost in deadly traffic accidents and victims injured in catastrophic crashes. In our experience, the top causes of these accidents are alcohol, drugs, and electronics.

Austin city officials, according to the Statesman article, have been working to educate the community and come up with strategies to lessen traffic deaths.

Ultimately, though, it is imperative that each citizen takes responsibility to help change this alarming trend. It is impossible to control other drivers, but each person can become a better driver and encourage others to do the same.

You’ve heard this a million times – don’t drink and drive. Don’t let repetition dilute the sentiment. It is vitally important.

A few safe strategies:

– Use a taxi, Uber, or Lyft to get to and fro your night (or day) out drinking. We recommend Lyft, as we’ve found it to be consistently easy to find and inexpensive. If you don’t have the app, download it here and use code KATE775775 for a free $30 credit.

– Leave the bars before closing time. If you’re out late and wait until everyone else is leaving, it becomes more expensive and difficult to find transportation and more dangerous to be on the roads. The side benefit of leaving early? A happier morning.

– Even if your scene isn’t 2 AM on 6th Street, you might comprise your safety more often than you think. A few glasses of wine or beer with friends are harmless until they aren’t. Encourage your friends and family to be responsible. Make your personal influence one of moderation and good choices. You can do this in a lighthearted way—it doesn’t have to look like a stern reprimand. And why not find one of the hundreds of activities in Austin that are social, healthy, adventurous AND alcohol-free? Again, side benefit – brighter mornings and a healthier life.

We applaud Austin’s recent ban on hand-held electronics. Texting has been a known culprit for some time, but studies show that even chatting on a cell phone takes up valuable concentration. When you are using your hand to hold a phone and talk, your awareness and reaction time are compromised. The same goes for using your phone’s GPS or looking through music. Taking your eyes off the road for even a second can leave you unable to stop or react in time if someone else is driving dangerously ahead of you or near you.

What can be done?

– Map out your route ahead of time. Many new phones have voiceover technology to direct you, and if not, a good alternative is to familiarize yourself with the route before you are en route.

– Pick that perfect playlist or podcast before you leave the parking lot.

– Keep your phone tucked away and out of sight. Even if you aren’t planning on it, a text or email popping up on your screen can be distracting and is almost impossible to ignore. Hide your phone so that you aren’t tempted to check it and respond. The added benefit is that you can turn your commute into a more peaceful time for yourself.

If you or someone you care about is injured or killed on the road, you can reach our firm at 512.280.0800 to get help and advice. We dedicate our practice to helping families and victims recover, not just financially, but also mentally, emotionally, and physically.