ATX Safer Streets takes message to TxDOT

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A grassroots organization that has had a major impact on keeping drunk drivers off Austin streets is taking their message to the Texas Department of Transportation on Thursday.

The agency wants to hear from ATX Safer Streets.

The group has been able to implement three citywide efforts to curb drunk driving since they formed in March.

One of their big successes was getting the city to stop towing under the Interstate 35 bridge during the weekend so people who didn’t want to drive home after drinking could leave their car.

Sara LeVine, the founder of ATX Safer Streets, spent 10 years as a bartender and knows firsthand the problem of drunk driving.

Since then she has gotten the city to bring more awareness to the rule concerning overnight parking tickets being dismissed if the driver can show a receipt for taking alternative transportation home.

The grassroots organization also helped introduce ridesharing service like Lyft, SideCar and Uber. Right now the city is looking to develop a pilot program for these services but are still currently illegal.

Now their sights are set on removing towing from private parking lots downtown after 3a.m. and getting more taxis on the road.

“But also allow out of town licensed cabbies from San Antonio, Dallas, etc. to come in and work during events and festivals to help with the influx of tourists,” said ATX Safer Streets founder Sara LeVine.

LeVine said when she looked at the DWI numbers for June they were the third lowest since 2007.

Last June there were 502 arrests – this year 386.

Their next goal is to get Capital Metro to run about a dozen bus routes around the clock on the weekends.

“Cap Metro is our big fight and we are having a hard time getting through to them and understand public transportation is a huge part of reducing DWI’s,” said LeVine. “There’s a 2009 study out of Washington D.C. that found for every hour service was extended fatalities from drunk driving incidents went down 70% and accidents went down 40%.”

Capital Metro currently has eight bus routes that run from midnight to 3a.m.

But Amy Peck, a communications specialist with Capital Metro stated in an email; “We do not have additional budget at this time to expand the late night services we currently offer, some of which do pick up as late as 3 a.m. Capital Metro’s long term plans from ServicePlan 2020 focus on continuing to invest in core frequency and services to enable a “frequent route network” during the bulk of weekdays and Saturdays, when we experience our highest ridership.”

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