Fewer people dying on Arizona highways

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX – Fewer people were killed on Arizona’s roadways in 2010, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

According to ADOT’s “2010 Crash Facts,” 762 people were killed in car crashes on highways and local roads in 2010. That’s down more than 5 percent from 2009’s 806 fatalities. Just four years ago, that number was a stunning 1,301, the most traffic fatalities ever recorded in Arizona.

ADOT Director John Halikowski said his agency is dedicated to making Arizona’s highways safer.

“In an age of limited funding, ADOT is committed to improvements and programs that make our highways safer, ranging from signs that are easier to read day and night, new lanes in strategic locations and working hard to keep the snowplows moving when winter storms hit our high country,” he said in a news release.

Based on analysis of crash reports, a full 30 percent of 2010’s fatalities were alcohol related. While significant, that statistic is down from 35 percent in 2009.

“The reduction in fatal alcohol-related crashes is a testimony to the state legislature’s efforts to make our DUI laws among the strongest in the nation,” said Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Alberto Gutier in a news release.

Indeed Arizona has a strict enforcement policy when it comes to DUI, including harsh mandatory punishments for first-time offenders. A first0time conviction carries a license suspension of at least 90 days, one to 10 days in jail, the installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle and more than $1,500 in fines and assessments.

According to Gutier, the only violation more common than impaired driving is speeding or “speed too fast for conditions.”

“We need Arizonans to understand that their driving behavior plays a pivotal role in highway safety,” he said.

Here are some other findings in ADOT’s 2010 Crash Facts report:

• There were a total of 106,177 crashes recorded in Arizona in 2010

• There was a 20 percent drop in crash fatalities in rural areas from 2009 to 2010 (481 dropped to 382 fatalities)

• There was a 17 percent increase in crash fatalities in urban areas from 2009 to 2010 (325 increased to 380 fatalities).

• While crashes in rural areas (21,375) accounted for 20 percent of all crashes, they accounted for 49 percent of fatal crashes (344) in 2010

• 78 percent of all alcohol-related crashes occurred in urban areas. However, 41 percent of fatal alcohol-related crashes occurred in rural areas

• The highest percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes (19 percent) was in the 25-34 age group

• Motor vehicle crashes resulted in $2.668 billion in economic losses to Arizona in 2010

• 73.6 percent of all crashes occurred during daylight hours (6 a.m. – 6 p.m.)

• October was the peak month for all crashes (9,603 crashes)