To curb pedestrian deaths on I-35, TxDOT launches campaign

The new initiative advocates that the pedestrians and drivers keep themselves and others safe while on the road.

AUSTIN - One out of five pedestrian fatalities occur along Interstate 35, on average.

That's according to Texas Department of Transportation. And that's why the agency is launching "Be Safe Be Seen," a pedestrian safety campaign to improve pedestrian safety along and around I-35.

The goal of this campaign is to alert both pedestrians and drivers of the shared responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the road.

"We have a significant issue here in Austin with auto-pedestrian fatalities taking place," said Interim Police Chief Brian Manley.

In 2016 alone, 29 pedestrians were killed on Austin roadways due to vehicle-related incidents. As for 2017, 17 people have died so far do to auto-pedestrian crashes. 

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"As we move forward with improving I-35 and have more projects under construction, it is imperative that we take responsibility for our safety and use caution when driving, walking or biking," said State Rep. Celia Israel.

The "Be Safe Be Seen" campaign will be working closely with the local business community to share safety and safe-crossing information.

They're passing out reflective bags and lights to pedestrians, including school children and the homeless population.

"It will hopefully allow pedestrians be seen when walking along I-35," said Terry McCoy, district engineer for TxDOT's Austin District.

Police urge pedestrians to never cross the interstate on foot. It's illegal. 

When fatalities occur, both the driver and the family of the person crossing are impacted.

"We know from our officer's perspective in talking with (the driver), we know the traums that takes place when seeing the violence in these fatalities," said Manley.

Drew Scheberle with Austin's Chamber of Commerce said pedestrian safety is a top priority.

"We look forward to working on behalf of the business community with TxDOT and out other partners here today to help increase awareness with out retailers, restaurants, hospitality, music venues and ride-sharing companies," Scheberle said. 

The KVUE Defenders checked into any plans for pedestrian bridges crossing the interstate in crash-prone areas.  No plans are in place.

Sidewalk construction is expected to begin on certain stretches of I-35 next year.

For more information, go here.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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