APD searching for driver who struck police officer
AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department says they will continue efforts to improve traffic-safety.
This follows several incidents from over the weekend, one where an Austin Police officer was struck by a car and the driver sped off.
Interim Police Chief Brian Manley says drivers need to follow the law: from hit-and-runs to drunk driving and distracted driving.
The Austin Police Department is trying to tackle the driving culture in Austin, hoping no one else ends up hurt.
"Traffic is definitely a bit crazy," says James Peters, driver.
On Saturday night an Austin Police officer was investigating a crash off FM 973 near the Travis County Jail, when all of a sudden he was struck by a car. Police say the driver fled the scene, leaving the officer seriously injured lying in the road. Interim Police Chief Brian Manley says he's glad the situation wasn't worse.
"First responders, we're on the side of the road trying to clear up crashes that have already happened. So the men and women of your police service, fire service, EMS service are at greater risk because we're outside the vehicle. We're trying to keep these things safe. Again, that's why it is so important that people pay attention to and oblige the 'move over' law. Either exit a lane, giving that extra space, or slow down to 20 miles per hour below the posted speed limit," says Interim Police Chief Brian Manley, Austin Police Department.
Police are now looking for the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run. It's described as a 2000-2003 Honda Accord or Nissan Altima, 4-door, black or dark-colored with a cracked windshield. There were reportedly three passengers inside. Those we spoke with were surprised to hear what happened.
"Most of the time people aren't paying attention. They're not paying attention and also, I think they just don't give courtesy. You know they see a car stopped and it doesn't matter, they just keep going," says Sandra Thomas and Diana Battle, drivers.
Early Sunday morning there was a chain reaction of crashes right outside police headquarters along I35. Manley says drivers, from three cars involved, were arrested for driving while intoxicated. The interstate had to be shut down for some time.
"We know that Austin's got a very vibrant night-life, very vibrant entertainment district, lots of live music. Unfortunately, we also have a culture where people don't always make the most responsible decisions and they try to drive after drinking, even though there are so many alternatives available in this community," says Interim Police Chief Brian Manley.
APD says last year there were 26 traffic fatalities in the City of Austin. Preliminary results show those incidents involved 24 impaired drivers and 7 impaired pedestrians.