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Father, Child Die in Motorcycle Crash; Neither Wore Helmets

It’s the second day of the year and Austin already has two traffic fatalities.

An Austin man and his 13 year-old son died in a motorcycle crash yesterday. Neither was wearing a helmet even though Texas law requires anyone under 21 to wear a helmet.

People over 21 have to maintain a certain level of health insurance or they have to have taken a motorcycle safety course to ride without a helmet legally. Before 1997, all motorcycle riders had to wear helmets.

Children five and up are allowed to be passengers on motorcycles in Texas. But, again, they have to protect their heads.

“This case is so sad because the 13-year-old, and this is not passing judgment on the father, but the 13-year-old was following the lead of his dad,” Austin Police Lt. Justin Newsom says.

APD detectives are still trying to determine exactly what caused the man to lose control of his motorcycle and crash into a parked car.

Last year, the city had a record 80 traffic deaths. That number was up significantly from around 50 in 2011 and in 2010.

Lt. Newsom says there’s only so much Austin Police can do to prevent traffic fatalities, like issuing more tickets to drivers.

“This case in an unfortunate exclamation point on what happened last year. But it’s indicative of what causes most traffic fatalities,” Lt. Newsom says. “And that’s a poor choice on someone’s part to behave a certain way, to drive a certain way. And the outcome can’t be reversed.”

Lt. Newsom says many of 2012’s traffic fatalities involved intoxicated drivers or pedestrians illegally crossing busy roads.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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