Yesterday’s Austin American Statesman reported that Austin is on a record pace for pedestrian and bicyclist deaths. So far, 16 pedestrians and 1 bicyclist have lost their life to wrecks. In 2012, the current record year, 26 pedestrians and 3 bicyclists were killed.
The best quote of the story was from Lt. Troy Officer, who works in the Austin Police Department vehicular homicide unit. Lt. Officer stated:
If we had people being killed in these numbers, if we had gun violence that was taking lives like we have the vehicle violence, people would be outraged. People should be outraged by the loss of life from these vehicles because it’s preventable.
I couldn’t agree with the officer more. We see the tragedy caused by careless drivers on a daily basis. I think we understand it. But most people don’t know how significant these problems are.
I also agree with the officer that these wrecks are preventable. I often tell my kids that the one excuse I don’t want to hear from them when something happens was, “It’s an accident.” In most instances, it’s not an accident. Car wrecks, pedestrian injuries and bicycle wrecks usually result from a choice. A driver chooses to text and drive. A driver chooses to not pay attention. A driver chooses to not check a cross-walk or to try and beat a pedestrian through a cross-walk. A pedestrian chooses to not cross at a cross-walk or to try and beat a car. A driver chooses to not look for bicyclists. A bicyclist chooses to only slow-down at a red light.
These are not accidents. These are preventable. And right now, with record deaths, Austinites are doing a poor job of preventing these incidents.