AUSTIN -- Austin police launched a new safety initiative Tuesday called Home for the Holidays. The goal is to reduce dangerous driving and combat a growing number of pedestrian and cycling deaths.
The special operation will double the number of officers looking for drunk drivers, speeders, distracted drivers, and people not wearing a seatbelt.
"The main goal of this initiative is to keep families where they belong during the holidays -- not in the hospital, not in the morgue, not in jail," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo.
So far this year, APD is tracking more fatal pedestrian and cyclist crashes with vehicles than anytime in Austin history.
APD reports 28 pedestrians and three cyclists have died in 2012. Police report that one in three pedestrian deaths happen on busy highways.
"All those deaths start with someone making a poor choice, and we can't be everywhere all the time. So we ask people to think about what they are doing," said Lt. Justin Newsom with APD's highway enforcement unit.
APD also receives $1.1 million a year from the federal government to pay officers overtime to ticket aggressive drivers.