City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15

Rate of Traffic Fatalities per 100,000 Population

Measure Description
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 also used to set national and state goals and to allocate resources. Traffic fatalities are one of the measures NHTSA tracks.
Calculation Method
The traffic fatality rate is calculated by dividing the number of traffic fatalities in the fiscal year (October through September) by a population factor (Austin full-purpose population divided by 100,000).
FY 2014-15 Results
The goal for this measure was established at 7.86 traffic fatalities per 100,000 population, or about 69 fatalities. The result was 10.76 fatalities per 100,000 population, or 94 fatalities, which was 37% above the goal.
Assessment of Results
The FY 2014-15 result of 10.76 was 43% higher than FY 2013-14 (7.55), and 32% above the average of the last four years. A corresponding measure to the traffic fatality rate is the rate of serious-injury-producing crashes per 100,000 population. In FY 2014-15, the rate of serious-injury crashes was 45.65, down 3% from 47.09 in FY 2013-14. Traffic fatalities fluctuate, and it is difficult to know why some crashes result in traffic fatalities, while others only serious injuries. The Austin Police Department (APD) analyzes crash data on a regular basis and uses the information to target education and enforcement initiatives.
In the calendar year 2015 report on fatal traffic crash data, most of the traffic fatalities (81%) occurred on a highway or high-use roadway. Sixty-five percent of the fatal crashes involved impairment. Of the fatal pedestrian crashes in 2015, 83% occurred after dark (between 6 PM and 6 AM), 83% involved a pedestrian crossing when or where prohibited, and 86% of those at fault had prior APD involvement. In fatal motorcycle crashes, speed or failure to yield right-of-way was a contributing factor in 87% of the crashes.
 APD Highway Enforcement Command joined the City's Vision Zero Task Force to look for ways to reduce or eliminate fatalities and serious injury crashes. The initiative relies on three methods (engineering, education, and enforcement) to reduce collisions. APD is taking the lead on enforcement. In FY 2014-15, APD also added a third DWI shift to increase enforcement, and the regional patrol units dedicated additional resources to DWI enforcement during peak periods. Additionally, motors units were placed throughout the city, since the majority of fatalities occurred on arterial streets.
APD traffic officer directing traffic.
Next Steps
In FY 2015-16, APD will continue to participate in the Fatality Review Board with Austin Transportation, Health and Human Services, and others with the goal of reviewing monthly fatal collisions to determine actions to reduce fatalities. Additionally, this board evaluates changes to APD traffic enforcement policy that could further decrease fatalities.  
Contact Information
For more information contact Art Fortune, Highway Enforcement Commander at (512) 974-8210.