Public Safety Commission Calls for More Focused Traffic Safety Plan

Feb 2, 2016

Members of Austin’s Public Safety Commission are calling for changes to a city plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths in the city. 

Commission member Mike Levy criticized the Vision Zero task force’s draft plan, which includes more than 100 recommendations aimed at making Austin’s roadways safer, calling it a "kitchen sink."

The commission passed a resolution calling for a more focused set of recommendations to show priorities more clearly.

Levy called for one focus, in particular.

“Number one: Increased enforcement on both high-speed and neighborhood roadways, along with more aggressive prosecution of offenders," Levy said. "It must be the most important recommendation.”

The commission also called for more emphasis on pedestrian safety and for stricter punishments for people who drive while they are unlicensed or have had their license suspended. Those drivers were involved in one-third of the fatal crashes in 2015, according to Vision Zero.

A total of 102 people died on Austin's roads last year, the highest total since records started being kept. Commission members pushed for those drivers’ cars to be impounded if they’re pulled over. 

Credit Vision Zero Task Force

APD Commander Art Fortune told the commission that right now, that’s not the case.

“The current policy really doesn’t give any guidance towards that particular topic," Fortune told the commission. "It just basically says what the normal code is. That if someone is stopped, they can be issued a ticket in lieu of arrest or if they’re arrested, that’s an officer’s discretion.”

The Vision Zero task force is working on refining its draft plan. It’s still working its way through council committees, before it comes to the full council for a vote this spring.