Fatal and serious injury crashes have decreased by 22% at major intersections in Austin where safety improvements have been made, according to a report released in June by the city’s Vision Zero program.

The Vision Zero initiative—which has been adopted by cities throughout the nation—aims to eliminate traffic-related serious injuries and fatalities.

One way the city has tackled this goal is by making improvements to major intersections throughout the city. The 2024 report compared crash data before and after the improvements were completed for 22 intersections.


Since 2016, the Austin Transportation Department has completed safety improvements on 27 separate intersections in Austin, impacting drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Major intersections have a higher likelihood of severe injury or death because of the many conflict points, such as high speeds and high volume, Lewis Leff, Vision Zero’s lead traffic safety officer, previously explained to Community Impact.

Between 2019 and 2023, an estimated 37% of serious injuries or fatal crashes in Austin occurred at a signalized intersection, according to the report.

Because these locations represent a relatively small portion of the entire transportation network, city staff have focused engineering countermeasures at these locations, the report explains. Some of the improvements include:
  • Adding green protective arrows and flashing yellow arrows for left-turners
  • Increasing crosswalk visibility
  • Adding bicycle detection and signage
  • Adjusting clearance time for red and yellow lights
  • Adding flashing warning signs
Funding has come primarily through voter-approved mobility bonds from 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Austin has a transportation system that historically was not designed to account for human mistakes and does not adequately mitigate the potential severity of crashes, according to previous Vision Zero analysis.

Though the 2024 findings appear positive, the report states there is still work to be done.

The average of fatal or serious crashes is down from previous years, but there were eight intersections that saw an increase.

One example, the US 183 and Cameron Road intersection has seen an increase in total crashes, and injury and fatal crashes since intersection safety improvements were completed in 2016. In this specific case, the report notes 64% of those fatal and serious crashes were a result of drivers running a red light, something that can be difficult to address.

The city is constructing geometric changes, which will slow down turning vehicles, and concrete islands to protect pedestrians, among other safety improvements. Construction is expected to be completed by early 2025.

However, Vision Zero staff will continue monitoring all high-conflict intersection locations to determine if additional safety treatments are needed, the report states.

Findings collectively show a reduction in all crash types and injury severity, which is consistent with the previous year's data.

The total number of all injury-related crashes—minor, serious and fatal—decreased nearly 30% after the project improvements were completed. This translates to 40 fewer people being injured or killed at these sites annually, according to an ATD update.

One more thing

The report also outlines how decreasing traffic accidents results in reduced economic costs for both individuals and municipalities. Local transportation agencies quantify the financial impacts of traffic-related crashes, factoring in things such as:
  • Medical expenses
  • Emergency services
  • Vehicle damage
  • Property damage
  • Wage loss
  • Market productivity loss
  • Household productivity loss
  • Administrative expenses
  • Insurance administration
  • Legal costs
With a nearly 20% decrease in total crashes seen at major intersections in Austin, there was an annual comprehensive cost of crash savings of over $28 million. Per the report, the construction of safety improvements for all 22 intersections cost $18.5 million.

Joel Meyer, a transportation safety officer for Vision Zero, wrote in a statement to Community Impact that the city’s intersection safety projects demonstrate separating different types of traffic, reducing spots where accidents can happen and controlling speeds can significantly reduce crashes and save lives.

“We know that the most effective way to reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities in our community is by redesigning our transportation system using tried and true safe design principles,” Meyer wrote. “The safety investments the Austin community has made through mobility bond funding will continue to provide benefits for years to come, not only through safer mobility but also in cost savings to our community associated with avoided property damage, hospitalization costs, lost wages and more."