Texas has its issues with dangerous and reckless drivers, and Austin is no different. From drunk driving to distracted driving to aggressive driving, Austin motorists regularly display poor driving behaviors that put themselves and others at risk.
However, there are certain times when these poor driving behaviors occur at a higher frequency. These are the most dangerous times to drive in Austin.
Morning and Evening Rush Hour
Rush hour means more traffic, and congested traffic typically translates to a greater risk of collision. However, this is not the only factor that makes morning and evening rush hour a dangerous time to drive in Austin.
Time constraints are a major concern for morning rush hour drivers. From getting the kids to school to trying to make it to the office on time, it seems like the hours between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM are a race against the clock. As stress builds, it is pretty common for drivers to start slipping into reckless or even aggressive driving behaviors.
The same is also true for evening rush hour. After a long day of work, who wants to be stuck in traffic? Even minor delays can be enough to put an evening rush hour driver over the edge.
If you are driving in Austin during rush hour traffic, the best thing you can do is keep your cool and watch out for those who cannot.
Recognize that you cannot control anything outside of your car. Construction, traffic, red lights, and the actions of other drivers are entirely outside of your control. Also, refuse to let the actions of others have a negative influence on your actions behind the wheel.
Instead, plan for traffic and delays. Simply leaving your house 10 minutes earlier in the morning can have a huge impact on your driving mood and overall morning stress. As for evening rush hour, set a reasonable expectation for when you will be arriving home and plan any after-work errands or activities from there.
By doing so, you may find opportunities to cut back on trips and unnecessary stops. For example, if you go to the gym after work, bring your workout close with you. Skip the stop at home to change and change at the gym instead.
After Last Call
The hour between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM is one the most dangerous times to drive in Austin. You can likely guess why.
Texas law requires that bars close at 2:00 AM. While there are some clubs that will stay open after, they are not permitted to serve alcohol after the 2:00 AM deadline. This means there are a number of intoxicated drivers hopping behind the wheel of their cars all at once. And drunk drivers are dangerous drivers.
In fact, traffic data from the Austin Police Department shows that nearly one-third of all fatal crashes recorded in the city involve at least one drunk driver. The problem of drunk driving is not restricted to Austin alone. Our entire state seems to have an issue with drunk driving with Texas recording an average of 4.9 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people. This is 48% higher than the national average of 3.3 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people.
So what can you do? The best option is to not drink and drive, regardless of the time of day. With the abundance of safe alternatives like Uber, Lyft, taxis, public transportation, and designated drivers, there is never a reason to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Outside of not drinking or driving, consider working around this dangerous hour when possible. Out with friends? Head home before the bars close or find a place to hunker down until the roads have cleared a bit. Grab something to eat and take some time to rest up and rehydrate. There are plenty of places that cater to the Austin nightlife past 2:00 am. Enjoy them.
Weekends are a busy time for Austin. Both locals and out-of-towners are more likely to be out trying to enjoy all the city has to offer. Also, being the live music capital of the world, many artists will schedule their Texas tour dates so that their Austin shows fall on a Friday or Saturday night.
This means more traffic is inbound for the city, specifically downtown, on weekends than on weekdays. And as mentioned previously, more traffic means more accidents.
The weekend also sees a spike in drunk driving and reckless driving. Understandably, more people go out to bars and clubs on Friday and Saturday nights meaning there are more drunk drivers on the road.
The spike in reckless driving is a bit more difficult to pin down. It could be the sense of freedom weekend warriors experience being out of the office, or it could just come down to a sort of peer pressure.
Passengers can be a distraction for drivers. In fact, talking and interacting with passengers is among the leading causes of distracted driving crashes. Drivers can also be influenced by passengers from their peer groups and engage in more reckless and aggressive driving behaviors. Whether it is to impress their peers or simply part of trying to have a “good time,” many drivers drive worse when they are surrounded by friends than when they are driving alone.
SXSW and ACL
If you think weekend traffic is bad in Austin, then you’ve never experienced festival traffic. South by South West and Austin City Limits are two of the most attended festivals in the United States. People travel from across the United States to attend, and things can get more than hectic.
They also mark two of the most dangerous times to drive in Austin.
In 2019, Austin EMS responded to 153 incidents during the five days of South by Southwest alone. In 2018, they responded to 140.
So, unless you are attending SXSW or ACL, it may be best to avoid downtown Austin and Zilker Park accordingly.
What if I Am Involved in a Crash in Austin?
No matter how safe you drive, you cannot remove all risk of being in a car accident. When a crash occurs, you should focus on your health and protecting your rights as an injured victim.
For nearly 30 years, Thomas J. Henry Law has fought for injured clients in Austin and surrounding areas. Over that time, we have secured meaningful financial recoveries for our clients. Now it is time to let our success work for you.
Call now to speak with an Austin car accident attorney about your crash. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends.