New year, new changes. After an extra deadly 2012 on Austin roadways, police are stepping up their presence which means more tickets for bad drivers and jail for some law breaking pedestrians.
Twenty-eight people died in auto pedestrian accidents in 2012, several of them while crossing I-35. It's such a high number that police have started arresting pedestrians who cross major freeways, and taking them straight to jail.
"What we're seeing is also some level of intoxication involved as well so public intoxication and pedestrian in the roadway, those are things we are seeing more and more of and those aren't going to be citable offenses in the future, those are going to be arrests," said Commander Pat South who is Austin Police's Highway Enforcement Unit.
Commander South says since October 12, 2012 they have arrested two people for crossing major freeways. He says they were taken straight to jail. Since then, no one has died trying to cross major freeways.
"Simply to remove the individual in danger of being struck by an automobile, number one, and two, to ensure that behavior will not continue," Commander South said.
Commander South says they are also targeting aggressive and distracted driving, two constant problems that are only getting worse. Just look at the 80 traffic fatalities in Austin in 2012. Compare that to the 53 traffic fatalities in 2011.
So one possible change coming soon, APD motorcycle officers working weekends, something they don't do right now.
Also expect no refusal initiatives to continue. The New Year's extended holiday weekend no refusal produced 103 arrests for DWI. South says imagine just how many got away. He hopes through education and enforcement, 2013 won't turn out as deadly as 2012.
Crossing major freeways is illegal. It's a Class C Misdemeanor, just like a ticket. But just like a ticket, it's an arrestable offense.