How to Make the Most of SxSW

SxSW Safety

Last year, we represented a young woman who was seriously injured when a drunk driver crashed into a South by Southwest crowd. The tragedy brought attention to an ongoing problem in Austin—drinking and driving. South by Southwest came under criticism for lax enforcement of crowd control and over-availability of free drinks. The city’s lack of public transportation infrastructure and unavailability of taxis were implicated. The Austin Police Department was put under scrutiny for under-staffing the event and under-enforcing the penalties for drunk driving.

Since then, each of these institutions has made strides to improve the safety of this year’s festival. Each year, the city releases a SxSW evaluation. This year, the analysis targeted the culprits of overcrowding, alcohol consumption, and traffic problems. Austin Police Department also released their plan for increased cooperation with festival and venue management, increased law enforcement funding and staffing, and better traffic control.

Ultimately, while we cannot control the actions of others, each Austinite and visitor should take personal responsibility for staying safe. Drinking and driving, a problem that persists despite the incredible danger it poses, is often a culture issue. We are easy on our friends who drink and drive because the social norm of politeness restrains us. We waive away small mistakes such as getting behind the wheel after a boozy happy hour. SxSW exacerbates the issue by adding crowds, a party atmosphere, and open bars as far as the eye can see.

KVUE recently released a video covering the important safety issues for the festival. Take a look at it and learn how to stay safe and make the most of the week.