Texas: Vision Zero advocates look to Legislature to help reduce traffic deaths

To reduce speeds, city advocates are looking for help from the state Legislature, which they hope will agree to lower the statewide “default” speed limit on residential streets from 30 mph to 25 mph. They also want the state to allow cities to post even lower speed limits on streets, to 20 mph. Currently cities can only set the limit that low in special areas, such as near schools, churches or playgrounds.

No bill has been filed yet, but those close to the effort say that Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, and Sen. José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, are in the process of drafting legislation.

Vision Zero is pushing for a statewide “hands-free” law, similar to what currently exists in Austin, that requires the use of hands-free devices for in-car calls and bans texting while driving. The initiative also advocates strengthening the law to require drivers to stop for pedestrians, instead of merely “yielding.”

Finally, the group wants to encourage other jurisdictions to begin their own Vision Zero initiatives and establish ambitious goals.