Austin Transportation’s Speed Management Program works to improve safety and enhance the livability of Austin streets through context-appropriate speed reduction strategies. Reducing egregious speeding on all street levels and the likelihood of serious injury and fatal crashes supports the City’s Vision Zero goal. Austin Transportation implements two concurrent initiatives that make up the Speed Management program:
- Speed limit changes: Austin Transportation reviews existing speed limits citywide using data and applicable engineering studies to recommend changes or reductions in speed limits.
- Traffic calming treatments: Austin Transportation uses a multi-step data-driven process to select priority street segments and construct cost-effective engineering treatments that support reduced roadway speeds.
Why Speed Management is important
Speeding is the primary contributing factor in one in four fatal traffic crashes in Austin. Each year more than 10,000 people lose their lives to speed-related crashes in the United States. In Austin, data shows speeding was the primary contributing factor in 24% of traffic crashes resulting in death between 2013-2017. This makes it the top one of the four behaviors which contribute to most of the fatal crashes in Austin (along with failure to yield, distraction, and intoxication).
Effective speed management is critical for creating streets that support safe and convenient travel by everyone—whether they are in cars, on bicycles, walking or using assisted mobility devices. People get around Austin in different ways (sometimes on the same trip); by implementing intuitive, context-sensitive speed management strategies, the Austin community can enable safe and convenient travel for all.
Speed management is also a critical focus area to achieve our community’s safety goals. Throughout the years, Austin City Council has indicated safety as a priority in Imagine Austin, Austin Strategic Direction 2023, and the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan (ASMP) and continues to work towards our Vision Zero goal of reaching zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
Read the latest speed management prioritization rankings.(Nov. 7, 2022)
The streets shown in the prioritized ranking are updated twice a year. Streets may be higher or lower in the next round of updated rankings based on changes in crashes, street context, and/or the addition of newly collected street speed data. Rankings of streets with the same overall score are based on the sum of individual rankings for each data category used in program methodology (speed, volume, crash cost, and context).
- Traffic Calming Treatments
The new methodology for selecting traffic calming treatments uses a data-informed, equity-focused approach that considers crash history, characteristics of individual streets and surrounding neighborhoods, and speed data to proactively identify residential streets for potential speed mitigation interventions. Staff developed this new approach based on knowledge gained and feedback received through the following:
- the prior Local Area Traffic Management (LATM) Program,
- input from over 1,100 Austinites during a public engagement process in summer/fall 2019, and
- staff’s research on national best practices and emerging academic research which clarifies the impact of speed on safety outcomes and quality of life.
This methodology has been applied to all Level 1 and Level 2 streets in Austin (similar to “residential” and “collector” streets, respectively) as classified in the ASMP.
More information on the methodology used for selecting streets for traffic calming treatments is found below.
Austin Transportation developed a Traffic Calming Toolkit, a toolbox of speed mitigation strategies and treatments that may be applied in isolation or in combination with other treatments to achieve speed reduction on Austin’s Level 1 and 2 streets.
- Traffic Calming Methodology
The new traffic calming methodology takes a hybrid approach to analyze speeding citywide and identify streets that should be studied for potential speeding issues based on objective criteria. The program methodology includes three steps:
Step 1 - Citywide screening to select speed study locations
Austin Transportation has updated its selection criteria for speed study locations to incorporate additional public input. 120 potential speed study locations will now be selected every six months for consideration for future speed management projects. Beginning in April and October of each calendar year, Austin Transportation will accept public requests for speed studies.
- During each request period, Austin Transportation will allow citizens to submit speed study requests. Austin Transportation will study up to 60 streets during each cycle. Street submissions will be considered in the order they were received. . After 60 streets are requested, the public must resubmit their request during the next intake cycle if the request was not accepted.
- Austin Transportation staff will select the remaining 60 streets using street width and crash history data to predict and screen streets most likely experiencing egregious speeding.
- Speed study locations will be announced twice a year based on this predictive model.
Step 2 - Ranking for Funding
The second part of the methodology focuses on which streets to prioritize to rank for funding by using crash, speed, volume, and community context as data inputs. All streets from previous speed study cycles from the past three years, plus current year selections will be ranked for funding.
- Factors for Ranking
- Measured Speeds
- Use 85th percentile to determine speeding concerns based on prevailing operating speed.
- Speed remains the factor most contributing to serious injuries and fatalities.
- Use 85th percentile to determine speeding concerns based on prevailing operating speed.
- Volume of Egregious Speeding
- Focuses mitigation on streets with the highest combination of speed and volume.
- Presence of sidewalks
- Most points for streets with no sidewalks.
- Fewer points if sidewalk on one side of street.
- Zero points for sidewalks on both sides.
- Bicycle facilities (modified)
- Points for no bicycle facilities.
- Additional points for being on bicycle network without existing facilities.
- Proximity to existing transit (modified)
- Points for location with transit route.
- Zero points for location without transit route.
- Placement in an Equity Analysis Zone (EAZ)
- Point scale for EAZ of the street segment to be applied.
- Proximity to community destinations (schools, parks and libraries)
- Point scale for relative proximity to nearby destinations.
- Level 1 and 2 streets with:
- At least 60% adjacent residential
- Average daily trips (ADT) below 10,000
- Presence of sidewalks
- Measured Speeds
- Process for Ranking
- All streets from previous cycles from the past three years, plus the 120 locations, are initially ranked per the factors above.
- Approximately 10 streets will be selected for projects per round based on available funding, staffing, or contract capacity.
Step 3 - Expert panel review and project selection
A panel of experts from ATD’s engineering and Vision Zero teams performed a detailed analysis of the 10 streets advanced from Step 2. The panel considers all available information and includes additional street or area context (e.g., on-street/occupied parking, street width, and driveway density), all documented crashes, travel patterns, other City of Austin work planned for the area, and the balance between Step 1 criteria and documented excessive speeds. Based on this review, available funding, and program resources, project locations will be selected for speed mitigation treatments to be implemented. Final projects are subject to change based on field constructability, final construction cost, or other engineering determinations. Individual scopes of work for each selected street will be determined based on ATD’s understanding of current and emerging best practices for speed reduction strategies.
A comprehensive inventory of such treatments is cataloged in the Traffic Calming Toolkit.
- Speed Study Requests
Speed study requests are not being received at this time.
Speed study requests are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, twice a year. Submission windows begin in April and October of each calendar year. The next window will begin in April 2023. ATD collects speed data on 60 streets per cycle. To request a speed study, please contact 311 by phone or visit Austin 311 (austintexas.gov).
Requests submitted after the maximum capacity has been reached will need to be resubmitted during the next cycle for consideration. ATD will not hold requests after the speed study cycle capacity has been reached. Responses will be provided to inform requesters if their speed study request was accepted.
Speed studies will not be considered if:
- A street has data from the past three years, or
- A street is categorized as level 3 or above, as defined in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan.
- Speed limit changes
Based on a comprehensive traffic engineering study, the City Traffic Engineer determined safe and prudent roadway speeds on a wide range of roadways in Austin. The speed limit strategy is outlined in three parts:
- Neighborhood Streets – streets that are approximately 36 feet or less in width and have primarily front-facing residential land uses will be posted at 25MPH. Some neighborhood streets wider than 36 feet will also have reduced posted speed limits.
- Urban Core Arterials – most major arterial streets (Level 3 ASMP streets) within the city's urban core bounded by US 183, SH 71, and Loop 1, will be posted at 35MPH or less, with a few exceptions.
- Downtown Streets – most streets within the area bounded by N. Lamar Blvd., Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, I-35, and Lady Bird Lake will be posted at 25MPH. Guadalupe St., Lavaca St., MLK Jr. Blvd., 15th St., Cesar Chavez St., and Lamar Blvd. will be posted at 30MPH.
Austin Transportation has created aninteractive map of the speed limit changes for the public to review. Some speed limit changes may be accompanied by other roadway treatments like restriping to narrower lane widths or assignment of portions of the street for alternative uses such as biking or parking uses to create a space more conducive to lower speeds.
Please review the full speed limit presentation for additional details.
- Speed management resources
"Reducing Speeding-Related Crashes Involving Passenger Vehicles," National Transportation Safety Board (2017) "Achieving Multimodal Networks," Federal Highway Administration
- "Where modes come together, the design should eliminate conflicts to the greatest extent possible. If it is not feasible to eliminate the conflict entirely, designers should minimize the speed differential between modes to ensure that if a crash occurs, the severity of the injury is likely to be lower...Designers have the flexibility to set design speeds lower than the posted speed limit."
Urban Street Design Guide, National Association of City Transportation Officials
- “There is a direct correlation between higher speeds, crash risk, and the severity of injuries... Design streets using target speed, the speed you intend for drivers to go, rather than operating speed. The 85th percentile of observed target speeds should fall between 10–30 mph on most urban streets.”
- Speeding Emphasis Area: Strategy #1 - Use the concept of establishing target speed limits and road characteristics to reduce speeding.
"Speeding Away from 0: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge," Governor’s Highway Safety Association "Expert System for Recommending Speed Limits in Speed Zones," National Cooperative Highway Research Program "USLIMITS2," Federal Highway Administration
How do I determine the relative priority of my street?
Review the speed management prioritization rankings to see if your street is listed.
My street ranked high but was not selected for a speed study. Why?
Based on available resources, Austin Transportation staff studied the higher-scoring 150 streets for the initial round of project selection. High-ranking locations that were not studied in the initial program scoring process will be prioritized for study in future data collection opportunities.
What if my street does not rank high? Does that mean that my street will not be considered for speed mitigation?
If your street does not currently rank high, it does not reflect whether or not speeding is occurring. It does mean that based on the crashes that have occurred and the context of the street and surrounding area, other locations in Austin were identified as having a higher need to be studied first. Due to the high demand for speed mitigation across the city, it is unlikely that Speed Management Program funds will be used for projects on streets that do not currently rank high. Other City programs, however, may pursue street improvements that also have a speed mitigation benefit, such as pedestrian crossings, lane width reductions, bicycle facilities, stormwater management, and more.
Based on the citywide rankings, my street does not qualify for Speed Management Program funding at this time. Is there anything else that can be done to address speeding?
In addition to the engineering treatments funded by the Speed Management Program, Austin Transportation works on citywide education and enforcement initiatives as well as speed limit changes to address the systemic problem of speed. Staff can coordinate the installation of Vision Zero yard signs, non-construction signs and markings improvements, and speed enforcement from the Austin Police Department. Austin Transportation has a limited fleet of Dynamic Speed Display Devices (DSDDs) that can be deployed on a rotating basis, on qualifying streets to provide driver feedback. These units are left in place for 4 to 6 weeks at a time to collect spot speed data and provide ongoing speed monitoring.
- You can request a Vision Zero yard sign by contacting VisionZero@AustinTexas.gov.
- You can contact your Austin Police Department district representatives for questions or comments regarding speeding enforcement.
How often will Austin Transportation re-rank streets with new data?
We recognize that, in a fast-growing city like Austin, the context and conditions of each street can change rapidly. The initial rankings represent a point-in-time list of prioritized streets; those which are not chosen for the initial set of speed mitigation projects will be considered for future speeding mitigation based on program funding at that time. Streets will be re-scored annually with new crash data and community context information and, as resources and a return to typical traffic conditions allow, additional speed data collection on new street segments will be conducted. Based on this information and available resources, additional high-ranking locations may be selected for project implementation subject to future funding.
Can my neighborhood association/business/etc. contribute funds for speed mitigation devices, particularly for streets not highly ranked?
While Austin Transportation recognizes that documented or perceived speeding may be occurring in many locations throughout the City, the new program does not accept outside funding at this time. We anticipate reviewing this position in the future once the program has been established, including exploring what mechanisms and resources would be needed to receive funds and implement projects on streets that meet certain criteria and have a demonstrated speed issue.
I previously submitted an application for the Local Area Traffic Management Program (LATM). How will my previous request be considered?
The new Speed Management Program reorients the City’s approach to speed management away from the request-based framework of the former LATM program and towards a more proactive approach that identifies streets with potential speeding problems based on objective criteria. This approach will lead to a more equitable distribution of City resources to help address speeding throughout Austin. That said, given the great demand for speed mitigation seen through the previous LATM program, Austin Transportation did consider the LATM applications with the highest 30 speeds collected for this first iteration of the new program scoring. These streets were scored and ranked alongside all other studied streets, with no extra points given based on their prior LATM status. The information collected from studying these additional streets will also aid staff in future refinements to the program’s criteria.
I have concerns about speeding on my street. How can I provide input?
Please feel free to submit your concerns related to speeding by contacting Austin 3-1-1.
Austin Transportation staff will receive the request and evaluate your request to determine where your street segment falls. If the street segment is highly ranked and valid speed data does not exist, staff may request speed data collection to further ascertain if the street segment merits further consideration for receiving speed mitigation treatments. Speed data collection and selection of streets for speed mitigation treatments are subject to the availability of the program.
Click here to sign up for updates on upcoming speed management projects.