In February, the Austin City Council passed a handful of new ordinances that lowered the speed limit on roads in Southwest, Southeast, and Northeast Austin, TX. These speed limit reductions are the first to be approved for the city’s outer districts, following an Austin Department of Transportation initiative kicked off in 2020 targeting urban-central traffic areas.
Residents of the city can expect to see changes as Austin Transportation’s Speed Management Program continues to implement strategies to “reduce egregious speeding on all street levels to improve safety and enhance the livability of Austin streets.”
Vision Zero is the name given to the city of Austin’s goal to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. The initiative was first adopted in 2015 based on a successful campaign originating in Sweden.
In conjunction with education and awareness efforts, the approach works by:
- Enacting speed limit changes
- Applying traffic calming treatments
“Traffic calming” might be an unfamiliar phrase to some drivers. The car accident attorneys at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm can help explain exactly what “traffic calming” means and its effect on traffic patterns.
First, let’s look at what streets are modified by the new speed limit reductions approved for Austin.
What Roads Are Affected by the Austin Speed Limit Reductions?
The most recent speed limit reductions change the existing speed limits of certain streets to 45, 40, and 35 miles per hour.
Streets now 45 mph:
- Sections of Tech Ridge Boulevard
- Sections of Slaughter Lane
Streets now 40 mph:
- Sections of East Yager Lane
Streets now 35 mph:
- Sections of West Yager Lane
- Sections of Nuckols Crossing Road
- Sections of Convict Hill Road
- Sections of Salt Springs Drive
- Sections of St. Elmo Road
Austin Department of Transportation traffic authorities are hopeful that lowering the speed limit in these areas will significantly reduce car crashes, pedestrian accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Vision Zero team researchers have determined that speed is the number one factor determining the severity of a crash. An injury is less likely to be severe (and a fatality is less likely to occur) in low-speed crashes. Traffic analysts believe that reducing the speed limit on these road segments can lower the rate of death and serious injury.
What Is Traffic Calming?
Traffic calming is a strategy to reduce speeding and other factors linked to high crash rates. Traffic calming uses road design, physical markers, and other measures to make streets safer for motorists and pedestrians. Through effective layout and strategy, traffic calming urges motorists to slow down, pay attention, and drive thoughtfully with an awareness of their surroundings.
The city of Austin’s Traffic Calming Toolkit lists several methods of speed management. They include:
- Traffic circles and mini roundabouts
- Pedestrian islands
- Delineator posts (flexible plastic posts with reflective material)
- Curb extensions
- DSDDs (Dynamic Speed Display Devices—machines that measure and display speed in real time)
- Chicanes (alternating curves that break up a straight path and force a driver to slow down)
- Jiggle bars (large, raised pavement markers that “jiggle” a car when it drives too fast over them)
- Speed humps and speed cushions
- Raised crosswalks and intersections
- Rumble strips
- Yard signs encouraging drivers to slow down
Speeding is a major cause of preventable death in the United States. It’s estimated that roughly one-third of motor vehicle deaths involve speeding as a factor. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 2020 saw the highest vehicle fatality rate in 13 years. The number of deaths was nearly 25% higher than the previous year. This is a particularly alarming statistic due to the fact that far fewer miles were driven overall.
As the City of Austin recognizes, it’s clear that something needs to be done to address the problem of speeding. Over the past several years, traffic safety officials have continued to find creative ways to crack down on speeding. All of these measures aim to save lives. Next time you see a traffic circle or yard sign, perhaps it can be a reminder to do your own part to save lives on the road.
Traffic Calming Treatments in Austin
Modifications to certain roadways in Austin began over the past one to two years. While 150 sections of city streets were initially considered for the project, only 14 traffic areas were eventually chosen. In order to best utilize available funds, Austin Transportation Department officials considered factors like crash data, speed averages, sidewalk conditions, nearby destinations, and the community context.
One or more traffic calming techniques has been (or is being) applied to these street segments in Austin:
- Springdale Road from Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
- Webberville Road from Springdale Road to MLK Jr. Boulevard
- Heflin Lane from Springdale Road to Webberville Road
- Rosewood Avenue from East 11th Street to Webberville Road
- Bolm Road from Springdale Road to Shady Lane
- Crystalbrook Drive from Loyola Lane to Pecan Brook Drive
- Briarcliff Boulevard from Cameron Road to Berkman Drive
- Blessing Avenue from Atkinson Road to East Anderson Lane
- Colony Park Drive from Loyola Lane to Ritchie Drive
- Powell Lane from Georgian Drive to I-35
- Peppertree Parkway from East Stassney Lane to Teri Road
- Blue Meadow Drive from Bluff Springs Road to Meadow Lake Boulevard
- Palace Parkway from West Slaughter Lane to West Dittmar Road
- Abilene Trail from Convict Hill Road to Beckett Road
Car Accident Attorneys Who Fight for the People of Austin
Each year, thousands of people lose their lives in speeding accidents. Even more people are injured, with many left with physical disabilities that alter their ability to live the life they once lived. At Buckingham & Vega Law Firm, we stand up for Austin drivers and pedestrians who were hurt because of someone else’s reckless choices. If you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a speeding driver, we are available to help.
Reach out to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matter with an experienced Austin car accident attorney. An initial consultation to discuss your case details is always free to you. Our law firm is made up of lawyers who care personally about the outcome of your case. And we have the skill and experience to get you the compensation you need to move toward recovery. Reach out today to begin a conversation.