Vision Zero action plan The city of Austin's Vision Zero task force will present its proposed action plan to City Council on Dec. 8.[/caption]

The city of Austin’s Vision Zero task force plans to bring a proposed two-year action plan aimed at reducing the number of preventable traffic fatalities to City Council’s Dec. 8 work session.

Frances Reilly, a planner with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department, said the number of traffic fatalities is now 84—he clarified that did not include recent fatalities that occurred during the weekend. The figure surpasses record number of traffic deaths from a single year—81 in 1986.

“We can solve this,” he told members of the city’s Urban Transportation Commission on Nov. 10. “Traffic deaths and serious injuries are absolutely avoidable.”

The task force’s proposed action plan has four key areas. The first area calls for using data more effectively. Reilly said this means refining what data should be collected and how the city would collect it. Data would also be shared among various agencies and with the public, he said.

“Crashes do indeed follow some patterns,” he said. “As we pretty well expect, injuries tend to follow our busier roads. Our deaths, especially for people walking and biking, are on our high-speed roadways. Are there ways we can better design [the transportation system] for people walking and biking?”

Of traffic accidents involving a death or incapacitating injury, 44 percent do not have a contributing factor, Reilly said. Seventy-nine percent of crashes with a contributing factor have at least one of the following factors included: improper movements such as lane changing; driver inattention or distraction; failure to yield the right of way; speed; alcohol and drug; and failure to stop.

“Pretty unique to Austin is a high number of our pedestrian deaths have been people experiencing homelessness crossing into roadways and being hit and killed,” Reilly said.

The second action plan area calls for using data to target education outreach, enforcement of laws and engineering of the transportation system. Data show about 69 percent of traffic deaths occur on only 8 percent of the city’s road miles, Reilly said.

The third action area is developing a media campaign to raise awareness of both the magnitude of the problem and the behaviors that contribute to the problem, Reilly said.

“We have seen some of the benefit for just the additional media coverage of what is our worse year on record,” he said.

The final action item seeks to continue the work of the task force. The group was created in November 2014 and comprises representatives from various city departments, boards and commissions; state agencies; those in the health, transportation, education and social services field; and those in vulnerable populations, according to the city’s Vision Zero web page.

On Oct. 1, City Council passed a resolution adopting the Vision Zero goals into the Imagine Austin comprehensive plan.

For more information, visit the Vision Zero Web page. A group called Vision Zero ATX, made up of individuals who are passionate about creating safe streets, also started a website with additional information.