Resource Data

Crash data shows Arizona road deaths at their highest level in 15 years

Arizona’s roads have been the deadliest on record for the past 15 years, according to 2021 crash data from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Rick Murray, president and CEO of the Arizona chapter of the National Safety Council, lamented the increase in traffic fatalities and collisions in general, which he said was likely due to the fact that people were reverting to various dangerous driving habits as they returned to the office and normal life. in general.

He added that people know driving drunk or distracted is dangerous, but they overestimate their abilities as a driver and mistakenly believe the behavior is less dangerous if they do.

“It’s all about good driving behavior,” Murray said. “I’m talking about distracted driving. I’m talking about courteous conduct. I’m talking about people who get overly anxious while driving and let their emotions take control. It’s all of those things combined.

Murray asked why people are allowed to drive for the rest of their lives after passing a driving test once, and suggested people be required to retest every 5-10 years to make sure they know the laws in force.

Here are the numbers to know from the report:

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Fatal accidents increased by 12% in 2021 compared to the previous year

According to the report, fatalities and overall accidents increased in 2021 compared to 2020. Fatalities increased by 12%, from 1,054 in 2020 to 1,180 in 2021, while overall accidents increased by almost 23 %, going from 98,778 to 121,345.

People have traveled about 8.1 billion more miles compared to 2020, when many were working from home or practicing remote learning due to the pandemic.

Impairment is a factor in 1/3 of fatal crashes

A press release on the report credits driver behaviors as the biggest factor in fatal crashes, with speed being a factor in 30% of fatal crashes and impaired driving in almost a third. Nearly 25% of fatal collisions involved someone not wearing their seat belt.

While fatalities from crashes where alcohol was a factor increased slightly by 6.5%, 243 fatalities in 2021 compared to 228 in 2020, crashes involving alcohol in general increased by nearly 25%, from from 4,506 to 5,620.

And while people overestimate their prowess behind the wheel, Murray said drivers can often underestimate the danger they put themselves and others in when they get behind the wheel while buzzing or running off the road. eyes to respond to an SMS.

“I think we have to remember that what we’re driving is a legal weapon and any small accident can be catastrophic,” Murray said. “But the fact that we weren’t doing the simplest things – putting on our seat belts, turning off our phones and obeying the speed limit – those three things alone, we would see a dramatic decrease in the death rate.”

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Speed ​​contributes to 30% of fatal accidents

Nearly 25% of fatal crashes involved someone not wearing their seatbelt, and about 30% of fatal crashes involve speeding.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona governor’s traffic safety office, suggested that police departments allocate more resources to their traffic division to strengthen enforcement and crack down on some of those who ignore traffic. rules of the road, especially for those who do not obey the posted speed limit. .

“Speed ​​is not a suggestion – it’s a law,” Gutier said. “That’s what people don’t understand.”

Fatal bicycle accidents have increased every year since 2018

Cyclist fatalities also rose from 32 to 45 – a 41% increase – and have increased every year since 2018.

“It illustrates that real change must start in the driver’s seat,” the agency wrote. “Reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries cannot be solved by state agencies alone, as more than two-thirds of crashes occur on roads other than state highways.”

Contact reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @PerryVandell.

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