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Trauma expert weighs in on traffic death increase in Austin

April was the deadliest month on Austin's roads so far in 2022. A St. David's trauma expert weighs in on the reason behind it.

AUSTIN, Texas — April has been the deadliest month on Austin's roads so far in 2022, with nearly half of all traffic deaths involving pedestrians.

This is following an increase in traffic deaths throughout the pandemic. And, in 2021, the city set an all-time record for traffic deaths.

Payton Bowyer, a trauma injury prevention coordinator at St. David's South Austin, said throughout the city, the largest issue with traffic-related deaths is bike and pedestrian safety.

"Obviously, with the weather getting nicer, people are out on the roads and doing things. What is definitely taking a big toll is the distractions, really not being aware of your surroundings," said Bowyer.

Bowyer said if you are the driver, it's crucial to not have your phone out. Be focused on the road, she said. Rules also apply if you are the pedestrian or a bicyclist. It's important to be aware of your surroundings and looking both ways and then right again before you cross. 

"If you're a cyclist, make sure that you're wearing a helmet. That can save your life. I know, sometimes we think of them as a hassle, but there's so many times that we see that people wearing their helmets really is going to save their life. Also making sure you're checking your brakes and tires, wearing light colors so that drivers can see you," said Bowyer. 

Certain times of the day can also have an effect on pedestrian crashes. Bowyer said early mornings and late nights when visibility is impaired are heightened time for crashes. During these times, it's recommended to stay more alert. 

The use of cellphones and other electronic handheld devices behind the wheel is illegal as of Jan. 1, 2015.

"Austin in general is already such a busy city and there's so many people outside doing things, biking all the time, walking out on the street. So you really have to be careful to protect yourself," said Bowyer. 

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