Crimewatch: Austin officials continue to work to reduce pedestri - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: Austin officials continue to work to reduce pedestrian deaths

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Crossing freeways is illegal in Austin but that isn't stopping people from trying. Police say it's the major reason why pedestrian fatalities are a problem.

By the first week of July, Austin police say 15 pedestrians have died on our roadways. While its down compared to the same time in 2012 where 18 pedestrians died, police are still concerned.

"We've outgrown our infrastructure over the years and with that comes an increased population and with an increased population comes that conflict of having so many cars traveling the same spots. They're competing for the same resources," Lt. Robert Richman of APD Highway Enforcement said.

Police say 65 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on freeways. The problem areas include Highway 71, MoPac, and Highway 71 east. But the worst is I-35, especially the lower deck near 38th 1/2 street.

Police say the biggest misconception is that pedestrians think they can make it across the freeway and beat the cars when in fact, a car going 70 miles an hour travels the length of an entire football field in just three seconds.

"They can't stop fast enough to be able to yield to that pedestrian," Richman said.

Lt. Richman also says impairment due to intoxication continues to be a significant factor in pedestrian fatalities.

"It's not a good thing," he said.

In January, FOX 7 told you that the Austin Police Department started arresting people trying to cross freeways, just to get them out of danger. Police are also targeting pedestrians who jaywalk or cross mid-block and cars that don't yield to pedestrians. All in an effort to save lives.

Out of the past five years, 2012 was the deadliest for pedestrians with 26 deaths. Compare that to 16 in 2009, nine in 2010, 19 in 2011 and 15 so far this year.

Police want to keep the number low so they say only cross at designated locations like crosswalks, don't try to cross high speed roadways, avoid distractions while crossing the roadway like texting. Do your part, as police continue their efforts citywide. Police say so far this year, 13 people have been arrested for trying to cross freeways in Austin.

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