The Most Dangerous Roads in Austin

From the daily rush hour traffic on MoPac to the seasonal jams from festivals like SXSW and ACL, Austin is notorious for its congested roads, gridlocked highways, and seemingly never-ending roadway construction.

According to the TomTom Traffic Index, Austin drivers spent an average of 25% extra travel time in 2018 due to traffic congestion. As time on the road increases, the probability of a traffic accident occurring also increases.

Between 2010 and 2018, there has been a 23% increase in total accidents and a 26% increase in fatal accidents on Austin roads. In an effort to better understand the city, we took a look at the most dangerous roads in Austin for each type of commuter.

The Most Dangerous Roads in Austin Infographic

Increasing Population and Increasing Traffic Accidents

According to the U.S Census Bureau, the Austin - Round Rock Metropolitan area has seen a 26.3% increase in population between 2010 to 2018, ranking #3 in the Top 10 Growing Metropolitan areas in the United States. Growing at a rate of 55,500 people a year, or 152 a day since 2010, Austin is expected to surpass 1 million residents by 2020.

As the population in Austin rapidly increases, so does the amount of both commuters and traffic, and ultimately, traffic accidents.

Between 2010 and 2018, Austin has seen:

  • 32% increase in accidents involving a pedestrian
  • 27% increase in accidents on city streets
  • 26% increase in fatal traffic accidents
  • 23% increase in total traffic accidents
  • 21% increase in accidents on US, State, and Interstate Highways
  • 8% increase in accidents involving cyclists

Who Uses Austin’s Roads?

Cars are not the only vehicles Austin residents should expect to share the road with. Commercial trucks and 18 wheelers frequent the expansive highway system surrounding Austin, cyclists make use of the city’s extensive bike routes, tourists and Austinites alike can be found scooting downtown any given day, and pedestrians frequently make use of the roads when crossing at intersections and walkways.

For each type of commuter, some roadways are more dangerous than others. For cyclists, highways are typically less dangerous than busy inner-city roads since cyclists are less likely to travel via highway. On the other hand, highways are typically more dangerous for cars and trucks due to higher posted speeds, more lanes of traffic, and a higher density of vehicles.

In 2018, Interstate 35, also known as the Interregional Highway, was the most dangerous road for commuter vehicles, trucks, and pedestrians in Austin. A total of 2,718 recorded accidents occurred on this stretch of highway that spans north to south across Austin and into Round Rock, Temple, and Pflugerville.  It is a route frequented by commuters traveling across the city for both work and leisure, and is notorious for its rush-hour congestion and traffic.

For both cyclists and electric scooter riders, Guadalupe St. was the most dangerous road in 2018. Guadalupe Street runs north to south starting at the Colorado River and ending just past US 183, and the most popular stretch of the road near the University of Texas Campus has been deemed “The Drag”.  A total of 150 reported accidents occurred on Guadalupe St. in 2018.

Efforts to Reduce Traffic and Increase Road Safety

Austin lawmakers and state leaders are well aware of the city’s traffic problems and increasing accident numbers. Many new proposals have been made, more safety legislation has been put in place, and a multitude of public services have been expanded in an effort to relieve traffic congestion and make traveling within the city limits safer.

Here are just a few examples of Austin’s traffic and safety initiatives:

  • The Complete Streets approach to community design ensures that all users and modes of transportation are served, streets are beautiful and comfortable, and the environment remains protected.
  • Vision Zero aspires to reduce the number of people who die or are seriously injured in traffic accidents to zero.
  • The Austin Bicycle Plan aims to create a complete bike network across the city that can be enjoyed by all people.
  • The Traffic Congestion Action Plan proposes ways to alleviate traffic issues across the city .

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