Contact: Diann Hodges
Phone: (512) 832-7027
Date: Nov. 29, 2017
AUSTIN — In 2016, 29 pedestrians died on Austin roadways after being struck by vehicles. In an effort to improve pedestrian safety and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries occurring along and around I-35 through the Austin area, the Texas Department of Transportation announced the launch of the new “Be Safe Be Seen” pedestrian safety campaign. Joined by State Representative Celia Israel, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley, and Austin Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Drew Scheberle, TxDOT unveiled the initiative to alert both pedestrians and drivers to the shared responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the road.
“We know that if drivers can’t see you, they won’t know you are there,” said TxDOT Austin District Engineer Terry McCoy. “Our message of 'Be Safe Be Seen' is crucial to saving lives on our roadways. To help in that endeavor, we are providing reflective bags to those most at risk — our homeless population and our school children — who live and travel along I-35 in high-traffic pedestrian areas and construction zones.”
TxDOT currently has six active construction projects on I-35 and will soon start the seventh. Those projects call for bridges to be torn down and rebuilt, displacing members of the homeless community. TxDOT contractors will be handing out the “Be Safe Be Seen” reflective bags with a resource card provided by House the Homeless that contains information on the services available. TxDOT will also be working with the Austin Independent School District to provide bags to students, like those at Webb Middle School, who must cross the St. John’s bridge on I-35 to get to school. Safety messages will be placed in the bags to remind the kids to make smart choices.
“17 people have died already this year in Austin due to auto-pedestrian crashes, and that number is not acceptable,” said State Representative Celia Israel. “As we move forward with improving I-35 and have more projects under construction, it is imperative that we take responsibility for our safety and use caution when driving, walking or biking.”
On average, 28 people are killed in auto-pedestrian crashes in Austin each year, and one out of every five pedestrian fatalities occurs along I-35. Aside from the inestimable value of loss of life, incidents involving pedestrian fatalities amount to an estimated $6.5 million annually in user delay and emergency services.
“Drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists have a shared responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the road,” said Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. “We must all follow traffic laws, signs, and signals and exercise caution.”
The “Be Safe Be Seen” pedestrian safety initiative will also be working with the local business community to share safety and safe-crossing information with their patrons.
“Protecting those who live and visit our beautiful city is a top priority for us,” said Austin’s Chamber of Commerce Drew Scheberle. “We look forward to working on behalf of the business community with TxDOT and our other partners here today to help increase awareness with our retailers, restaurants, hospitality, music venues and ride-sharing companies.”
The Texas Department of Transportation is responsible for maintaining 80,000 miles of road and for supporting aviation, rail, and public transportation across the state. Through collaboration and leadership, we deliver a safe, reliable, and integrated transportation system that enables the movement of people and goods. Find out more at TxDOT.gov. "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.