Between 2016 and 2019, city officials in Austin saw a significant drop in traffic-related deaths, but the statistics for 2019 show that the totals are rising again, especially among pedestrians. This rise is understandably concerning for drivers, pedestrians, and everyone who shares Austin’s roads, and it is important to understand the nature of the situation so that you can take steps to protect yourself.
In 2015, over 100 people were killed on Austin’s roads – drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others – and the city acted appropriately, creating the “Vision Zero” plan and patterning it after previous successful initiatives like the one mounted in New York City. Vision Zero plans advocate a number of small changes that are generally seen as common-sense in the first place, such as lowering one’s speed by 5 mph or double-checking for pedestrians and cyclists even when not at crosswalks.
The plan was to reduce traffic deaths to 0 by 2025, and for the years immediately following the plan’s adaptation, fatality figures did decrease, getting down to 74 in 2018. However, in 2019 the figure shot back up to 88, which may not sound like much, but it is around a 15 percent increase in one year – and more people losing their lives even after the implementation of a serious safety program is still noteworthy and troubling. The obvious question is why, but it is also worth investigating what people on the roads can do to protect themselves as well.
Know Your Rights
There are multiple different potential causes for the rise in fatalities, with many activists blaming the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its lack of focus on pedestrian safety in particular. Texas law does allow an injured driver or pedestrian to bring suit against the Department if they have an accident due to poorly maintained roads, but it can be a very difficult process as the law has a very narrow definition of ‘poorly maintained.’ In addition, TxDOT and all other governmental entities are protected by sovereign immunity, which only allows citizens to sue them under specific circumstances.
If you are ever in an auto accident on Austin roads, the important things to do are to protect yourself – do not admit any kind of fault, seek medical treatment immediately, and do not ever leave the scene of an accident before law enforcement or medical professionals agree to let you. If you are injured in the crash, it is important to determine who might be responsible, first and foremost; it may be the driver or drivers who struck you, or it may be the city or state, or someone else. It is a good idea to contact legal counsel if you would like to pursue the matter further.
Call a New Braunfels Car Crash Attorney Today
While it remains to be seen whether Austin will turn its traffic death count in the other direction in the years to come, you still have rights and responsibilities if you use the roads. If you have been in an auto accident, calling a skilled New Braunfels car crash lawyer at the Bettersworth Law Firm can help to answer your questions and try to illuminate how you should proceed. Call us today at 888-392-0039 for a free consultation.