The Austin Police Department is increasingly frustrated with a problem that seems to only be getting worse: incidents between drivers and pedestrians or cyclists.
“It just seems that people are making poor decisions, whether they’re drivers or pedestrians. We don’t refer to them as accidents anymore. They’re all preventable,” says Lt. Ely Reyes of the Austin Police Department’s traffic enforcement division.
The problem is indeed severe. This year isn’t even over — yet 2012 is already the deadliest year on record for pedestrians and cyclists. The crash rate is double that of the average annual rate of the past eight years.
For incidents involving cyclists, there is tension as to who is generally more at fault. Drivers complain that cyclists disregard traffic laws (especially observing stop signs and red lights), and cyclists point out that drivers are often careless or aggressive, putting them in danger. It is noteworthy that every single cyclist death was caused by being struck from behind, and that every cyclist neglected to wear a helmet.
There is a growing momentum to implement bike lanes that are physically separate from vehicle lanes. Austin City Council Member Chris Riley is a cyclist and proponent of this move. Riley described the auto-cyclist crash trend as “very disturbing”.
The situation doesn’t look any better for pedestrians. Although one-third of pedestrians were killed on or alongside dangerous highways like 1-35 (where crossing on foot is prohibited), the majority of pedestrians killed were struck in places thought to be safe: residential streets, parking lots, sidewalks, and marked crosswalks.
There are intersections in Austin that infamously attract auto-pedestrian incidents, and police have stepped up the number of citations they are issuing to both drivers and pedestrians—but police initiatives have yet to seriously reduce such incidents.
As bad as it seems here in Austin, the fact is that national statistics are reflecting the same trends in other U.S. cities.
The solution to this complex problem remains to be seen, and we can only hope that 2013 will bode better for everyone—drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.
If you have been the recent victim of an auto-pedestrian or auto-cyclist crash, call the attorneys at Barry Law Group today. Let them put their years of experience to work for your case. (512) 271-5251