Last year, there were 55 deadly car crashes in Austin, and 28 of them involved impaired drivers. Now there’s new data that shows hot spots in Austin where DWI drivers are pulled over the most and where those drivers actually live.
Carolyn Hearn knows the impact a drunk driver can have. “I went from being independent to depending on family members, friends,” Hearn said.
A drunk driver hit her in October 2013, breaking her collarbone and ribs, among other serious injuries. Doctors says Hearn is lucky she’s not paralyzed. “As far as neck movement, I don’t really have much, but I have enough,” she said.
Drunk driving is constantly on Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo’s radar. “We know people aren’t going to stop drinking; we know people won’t stop drinking and driving,” he said.
On Thursday, Acevedo took part in a forum hosted by Mobility ATX and RideScout to talk about short-term solutions to keep inebriated drivers off the streets. Moderated by KVUE’s Tyler Sieswerda, the group was flanked by maps which showed where officers pulled over the most DWI suspects last year.
It’s no surprise that the biggest hot spots for DWI stops are downtown and along East Riverside Drive. But the data for where those drivers actually live shows that few reside west of MoPac. Most live near Rundberg and U.S. 183, West Campus, East Riverside and State Highway 71 and Ben White.
CK Chin, owner of popular downtown restaurant Swift’s Attic, is alarmed by how many people choose to drink and drive. “It’s kind of like the warning label on cigarettes: Most people know it’s there,” he said.
Chin and others believe it takes personal responsibility to choose an alternative over drinking and driving. He also thinks it’s important to make sure drinkers don’t get behind the wheel. “I think the awareness factor is probably the biggest thing for us, just to let people know the options are there,” Chin said.
For those out drinking, Acevedo advises to have a designated driver or to use public transit or a ridesharing service.