AUSTIN (KXAN) — Starting Friday night, there will be no more weekend towing from the parking lot under Interstate 35. Advocates against drunk driving claimed a victory on Tuesday when the city announced people could leave their cars overnight on the weekend without the fear of their cars being towed. The group hopes this will lead to safer streets.
Sara LeVine with Austin Safer Streets has been asking city officials to change the rules and allow people to leave their cars parked in the lot overnight. “Most of the people I know that have been towed in Austin have been towed from there and a lot of other people have expressed that being a problem lot.”
LeVine is confident it’ll lead to less people drinking and driving.
Tuesday, city officials said yes to the request.
“I think it’s a huge step and it really shows the city that we’re serious,” LeVine said. “And it also shows the city itself is serious in making changes that’s going to save lives.”
The parking lot can hold as many as 240 cars. City officials hope this is the first step in cutting back on the number of people drinking then getting behind the wheel.
“Anything we can do to prevent someone from driving home or having to drive home drunk is what we’re here for,” said Steve Grassfield, parking enterprise manager for the City of Austin.
Cameras that focus on the lots will help keep an eye on cars left overnight, Grassfied said. He says they are also working with other downtown lots and garages to allow overnight parking.
Drivers will only be able to leave their cars overnight on Friday and Saturday nights, and the changes will go into effect May 30.
Austin Safer Streets also wants to see more buses and trains that operate later at night and they want more taxis on the road. They also say “peer to peer” driving services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar should be legalized. The Austin City Council recently agreed to look into developing a rideshare pilot program.