The San Antonio Express-News reported traffic deaths in the city fell by 26% in 2017 after a particularly deadly 2016.
San Antonio saw 53 fewer deaths on the roads in 2017, but while city officials expressed relief they could not pinpoint a specific reason why fatalities dropped.
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“I have no answer for it,” said John Gianotti, an engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation. “I know the city’s programs are working, and I know our efforts on U.S. 281 — like flashing signs warning of wrong-way drivers — have reduced the number of crashes, but attributing the 2016 spike or last year’s decline to any one thing is very difficult.”
The Texas Department of Transportation’s crash statistics reveal 145 deaths on San Antonio roads in 2017, down from 198 in 2016. The state as a whole saw 3,752 people killed on its roadways in 2017, dropping from the 2016 total of 3,850 after years of increases.
The Insurance Council of Texas reports traffic deaths have increased by 34% since 2010, which they attribute to lower fuel prices and the state’s “auto-centric growth.” However, they also said part of the rise can be attributed to cell phone-related distracted driving and truck-related crashes in the Texas oil patch.
“I definitely think this decline is due to a collective effort, involving things like better engineering, dedicated bike lanes, improvements in crosswalks and better lighting,” said District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales.
Gonzales said bikes lanes and other similar features have unexpected traffic-calming effects: the more bikes on the road, the more drivers seemingly obey speed limits.
City officials touted the decline as part of its “Vision Zero” program to eliminate traffic deaths. Motorcycle accidents fell from 28 to 16 in 2017 according to TxDOT statistics, pedestrian deaths fell from 28 to 16 and bicycle fatalities fell from five to two.
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