Number of fatal crashes in Austin spike in 2012

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 7 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The City of Austin has released shocking new numbers about the spike in fatalities in Austin in 2012. That study is painting a clear picture of a growing problem in Austin and how to fix it.

A 40-page report from the City of Austin's transportation department shows 78 fatal crashes last year -- a 42 percent increase from 2011. Now transportation officials are trying to figure out why.

According to the traffic report from the City, distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and no seat belts are just a few of the reasons deadly crashes happened in 2012.

The intersection at Parmer Lane and Lamar is listed as number one for all traffic crashes with 34. The intersections at 183 and Loyola and E 290 at Springdale follow closely behind.

Businesses near the intersection of Parmer and Lamar in North Austin say they're not surprised that the spot is number one for crashes, they see it on a regular basis.

"When it's slow, I literally open the back door and watch a show," said Sheila Adame who works at a taco truck facing the hot spot. "There's always people constantly honking, ambulance, police, literally non-stop, all day."

Her family's business has been in that same corner for more than five years, and she has plenty of stories to tell.

"The car was like smushed, upside down, and it was a convertible car," she said describing one scene.

The North Austin intersection has several turn lanes not far from a major highway. That's something a lot of the hot spots in the report have in common.

"We want to be data driven as we start to improve our programs," explained City of Austin Director of Transportation Robert Spillar.

Spillar says there are already safety initiatives in place, but this report tells them where those programs should go.

"It allows us to target those areas that pop out in the data," Spillar said.

Austin police say they will also increase patrols and traffic stops in problem areas. Still, the City says there's only so much it can do.

"Every driver, every pedestrian, every bicyclist has to take some personal responsibility," Spillar said.

The final report will go before the Austin City Council in April.

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