Rate of Traffic Fatalities per 100,000 Population
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) uses a set of measures to track performance and assess progress in traffic safety at the local, state, and national level. Results are used to set national and state goals and to allocate resources. Traffic fatalities are one of the measures NHTSA tracks.
The traffic fatality rate is calculated by dividing the number of traffic fatalities by a population factor (Austin full-purpose population 913,917 in 2016 divided by 100,000).
FY 2015-16 Results
In FY 2015-16, there were 8.04 traffic fatalities per 100,000 population, or 73 fatalities, 3% above the estimate.
Assessment of Results
In FY 2015-16, traffic fatalities per 100,000 population were 25% lower than the previous year. In calendar year 2015, (the most recent full calendar year of official data) most traffic fatalities involved motor vehicle occupants, totaling 55 fatalities, pedestrian involved incidents, totaling 30 fatalities, and motorcyclist involved incidents, totaling 15 fatalities. Of all motor vehicle fatalities in 2015, 18 (33%) victims were not using restraints. In all of the motorcycle fatalities, 4 (27%) victims were not wearing helmets.
During 2015, 38 fatalities (37%) involved an alcohol-impaired driver as compared to 28 fatalities in the previous year. Of all pedestrian fatalities in 2015, 11 (or 37%) involved an alcohol-impaired pedestrian as compared to 8 in 2014.
APD continues to work with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) through its Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant. This grant increases enforcement of traffic laws which should decrease the number of fatal and serious-injury collisions involving speed, safety belts, and driving while intoxicated. Additionally, the STEP grants have allowed the department to increase the number of “no refusal” days from 20 in 2015 to an expected 90 in 2016. Also, STEP enforcement has expanded into the overnight hours, when fatalities are more likely to happen.
In FY 2015-16, APD led a hands-free driving initiative. Officers from the Highway Enforcement Command rode through Austin’s highways on Capital Metro buses spotting drivers using their cell phones. Officers on the bus would alert the officers strategically staged throughout the roadways who would then ticket motorists. Throughout the initiative officers wrote 542 tickets for electronic device use while driving.
In FY 2016-17, APD will focus traffic enforcement on the top contributing factors identified in crash reports. This is a best practice recognized by Vision Zero cities and was identified through the city’s participation in the Vision Zero network. The ability to access this data resulted from collaboration with TxDOT and a newly formed APD Information Technology unit.
For more information contact Art Fortune, Highway Enforcement Commander at (512) 974-8210.