Austin Transportation Department is responsible for leading the planning and development of a safe multi-modal transportation network in collaboration with City and community partners. The department’s most ambitious goal is our community’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Austin streets.

Vision Zero logo with Austin skyline

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is a holistic strategy to end traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, and equitable mobility for all. Vision Zero holds that most traffic deaths and injuries are not a result of unavoidable accidents, but are rather a preventable public health issue. This strategy was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s and has led to major reductions of traffic deaths and serious injuries in many places around the world who have taken concrete actions to achieve its goals.

Austin’s City Council adopted Vision Zero as a policy within the Imagine Austin Comprehensive Plan in October 2015. Then they adopted the Vision Zero Action Plan in May 2016 and reaffirmed our community’s commitment in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan and the citywide Austin Strategic Direction 2023.  These policy documents provide the direction to collaboratively improve safety for all road users.

Today, Vision Zero is led by staff in the Austin Transportation Department. The Vision Zero team partners with other City departments, state and federal agencies, and community organizations to implement traffic safety efforts citywide. Austin's Vision Zero program is a member of the Vision Zero Network, which is a growing coalition of U.S. cities committed to eliminating all traffic fatalities.

Why is Vision Zero Needed? 

Austin is consistently ranked as one of America's best places to live, but too many of our fellow Austinites die in traffic crashes each year. On average, an Austinite is killed in a crash every five days, and someone is seriously injured in a crash every 20 hours. Everyone we lose is someone's loved one, and each of these deaths and injuries is preventable. 

How does Austin Get to Zero?  

Through a combination of safer street design, targeted law enforcement, evidence-based public policy, thoughtful public engagement, and participation from our community, we can ensure Austin's streets are safe for everyone. The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan includes key actions, indicators, and targets intended to shape future Vision Zero initiatives.

For more information on specific Vision Zero projects, visit the Vision Zero Programs and Initiatives page.

Data and Tools

The Vision Zero team uses a data-driven approach to inform Vision Zero efforts. Using crash data compiled from Austin Police Department Reports, TxDOT’s Crash Records Information System (CRIS) and other sources, the Vision Zero team has developed a High-Injury Network (HIN) which identifies streets in Austin with a relatively high number of serious injury and fatal crashes. The HIN is used to identify locations where engineering, education, or enforcement interventions should be prioritized to have the most impact in improving safety at high crash locations. Austin’s HIN includes just 8% of the city’s street network but contains nearly 70% of all serious injury or fatal crashes for all modes (2013-2017).

More recent analysis applies a comprehensive cost value to all people involved in crashes, and this has informed the focus on particular segments of the HIN, as well as prioritizing deeper analysis on the top locations throughout Austin.

Coming soon: An interactive dashboard and map for public access to fatal and serious injury crash data and trends.

Partnerships

The Vision Zero team works hand-in-hand with Austin-area mobility partners like Capital Metro, CAMPO, CTRMA, and TxDOT in addition to internal City of Austin departments like Austin Police Department, Austin Municipal Court, Austin Public Health, and Public Works.  Multiple initiatives also involve all Austin Transportation divisions from signals and mobility management to parking enforcement and active transportation and street design. Vision Zero is a safe systems-based approach and it takes changes made in multiple areas to make meaningful progress and create a culture of safety. Over the past year, the Vision Zero team worked to coordinate the following initiatives.

  • In partnership with the Austin Police Department (APD) and Austin Municipal Court, recipients of failure to yield citations who caused crashes with injuries must now appear in court and face higher fines rather than being allowed to pay a fine without a prosecutor’s involvement.
  • In partnership with the City’s Mobility Management Center, leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) were installed in downtown Austin. LPIs provide pedestrians a head start to begin crossing an intersection before drivers receive a green light.
  • In partnership with Parking Enforcement, dedicated parking enforcement officers are assigned to ticket and tow vehicles illegally parked in designated bike-only lanes, reducing potential traffic conflicts by decreasing the likelihood people biking will have to veer into general-purpose travel lanes.
  • In partnership with APD, No Refusal DWI enforcement was expanded to cover most weekends, holidays, and special events. During No Refusal, Austin Police Department detectives apply for blood search warrants in cases where a driver under arrest for driving while impaired refuses to provide a voluntary sample of breath or blood. 
  • In partnership with TxDOT, new barriers were installed on top of existing medians along hot spots on IH-35 to deter pedestrians attempting to cross the multiple high-speed lanes of freeway traffic.

Vision Zero Planning Documents