Arizona sees 1st increase in fatal car crashes since 2006

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- For the first time since 2006, Arizona has seen an increase in deadly car crashes on highways and streets.

Arizona Department of Transportation's "2011 Crash Facts reports" shows 825 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes across the state last year. Compared to 2010, the number is an 8.7 percent increase. There were 759 deaths in 2010.

The increase was even greater for those on motorcycles. In 2011, 132 motorcyclists and passengers were killed in 130 motorcycle crashes, compared to 85 deaths in 2010, an increase of 55 percent.

"Last year's figure is a sober reminder for all of us to concentrate on safe driving," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "That means buckling up, maintaining safe speeds, never driving while impaired and, in today's world, avoiding distracted driving."

Arizona recorded its highest number of overall traffic fatalities in 2006, when 1,301 people were killed.
The state's analysis of law enforcement crash reports provided to ADOT in 2011 shows more than a third of the people (292) were not properly restrained.  Alcohol-related crashes accounted for 31.30 percent of all fatal crashes.  Alcohol-related fatalities (265) increased 3.92 percent in 2011, compared to 2010.

"We can't back down on our statewide efforts to stop impaired driving," said Governor's Office of Highway Safety Director Alberto Gutier. "We've come too far in strengthening our DUI laws to do that. We never want to see the number of alcohol-related fatalities go up, but last year's figure is significantly lower than where we were in 2007, when nearly 400 people were killed."

Rural-area fatalities increased 14.44 percent and urban-area fatalities increased 2.91 percent.  The most-common driver violation was driving too fast for the conditions.

Total crashes dropped 3.16 percent.

 You can see the entire report here.