Panelists discuss options to reduce DWIs in Austin

Panelists Sara LeVine from ATX Safer Streets, moderator and KVUE news anchor Tyler Sieswerda, Police Chief Art Acevedo and C.K. Chin, owner of Swift's Attic and Wu Chow, discuss options to decrease the number of DWIs in the city at a May 28 live stream for MobilityATX. Panelists Sara LeVine from ATX Safer Streets, moderator and KVUE news anchor Tyler Sieswerda, Police Chief Art Acevedo and C.K. Chin, owner of Swift's Attic and Wu Chow, discuss options to decrease the number of DWIs in the city at a May 28 live stream for MobilityATX.[/caption]

Data showing where Austin police stopped residents for DWIs in 2014 compared with the 10 City Council districts indicates more steps are needed to reduce drunk driving.

The most DWI stops were in downtown Austin, the East Riverside Drive corridor and near the intersection of North Lamar Boulevard and Rundberg Lane, according to an analysis from the Austin Police Department and Civic Analytics.

Sara LeVine, an Austin bartender and founder of ATX Safer Streets—whose mission is to increase options for late-night transportation—said these areas also have more access to transit and late-night buses than other areas.

“It didn’t really surprise me to see the numbers a bit higher,” she said. “It shows me that we’ve got work to do in those neighborhoods.”

That work includes educating residents of their options and talk to the city and Capital Metro on adding more late-night bus routes. LeVine said another idea is installing wayfinding signs to bus stops that also include phone numbers for cab companies and other transportation resources so people know their options.

LeVine participated in a May 28 panel hosted by MobilityATX, an initiative created by RideScout and Glasshouse Policy designed to encourage residents to submit ideas on solving traffic congestion. The initiative concludes in June after which organizers will compile responses into a report for Austin City Council.

Panelist C.K. Chin, a downtown resident and owner of Swift’s Attic and Wu Chow, said people need to be more insistent with friends to carpool with a sober driver. He said having more frequent bus service with shorter routes would make transit a more viable late-night option.

Although the city has plenty of transportation options, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo said there does need more transit to serve the suburban parts of the city, such as Circle C and Steiner Ranch. Additionally, better neighborhoods could be better planned to include pubs within walking distance to also reduce the number of DWIs.

Acevedo said he has little sympathy for people who choose to drink and drive.

“I will always aggressively push to prosecute people to the fullest extent of the law because there is no excuse, and we have the [transportation] resources,” he said. “The bottom line is if you can afford a $10-$15 drink, you can afford a $15-$30 cab ride. What you can't afford is to end up crashing and killing somebody.”

Another live stream will be at 3 p.m. June 1 to discuss commuting. Panelists include Capital Metro CEO/President Linda Watson and Bob Harkins, the University of Texas associate vice president for campus safety and security.

A town hall meeting will be held at 6-9 p.m. June 23 at the Google Fiber Space, 210 Colorado St. For more information visit www.mobilityatx.com.
By Amy Denney

Managing Editor, Austin metro

Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and later senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition as well as covering transportation in the Austin metro. She is now managing editor for the 10 publications in the Central Texas area from Georgetown to New Braunfels.



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