In 2021, data showed a 26% increase in local traffic fatalities from 2020 and 31% from 2019, which mirrored national trends, according to Austin Transportation Department representatives.

There was a more than 23% increase in pedestrian traffic fatalities and more than double the number of motorcyclist traffic fatalities compared to 2020, according the data.

ATD attributed the increase to a rise in traffic violations, including speeding, and impaired driving.

“Humans make mistakes, but those mistakes don’t have to be fatal,” ATD Transportation Safety Officer Lewis Leff said.

Through a strategy called Vision Zero, the city will continue using street improvements, policy changes and education to reduce deaths and injuries, Leff said.

Austin City Council members officially adopted the Vision Zero plan in October 2015, and funding for the plan comes from the voter-approved 2016 mobility bond, which allocated $15 million for Vision Zero and intersection safety initiatives.

Although the number of traffic fatalities increased in 2021, the number of serious injuries caused by traffic collisions has been declining, according to Vision Zero data. Transportation officials said it is easier to predict what will lead to a traffic injury and reduce that risk compared to a death.

“I think we’re making some real progress on the larger scale. It’s harder to pinpoint where a fatality might happen, but serious injuries tend to occur at some hot spots frequently,” Leff said.

In 2020 and 2021, Austin had the fewest number of serious injuries since 2015 despite the rapid population growth in the city. There were 361 motor vehicle-related serious injuries in 2017, 299 in 2020 and 347 in 2021, according to the data.

“From our perspective, we’re doing the right work,” Leff said. “We’re focused on the right areas. It’s going to take a lot more time than any of us hope for, but we’re on the right track, and we could really use community support and understanding that it’s going to take everybody taking some responsibility for what’s happening on the roads.”