Fatal crashes in Arizona on the rise
County had fewer fatal crashes than previous years
In 2016, 962 people were killed in crashes on Arizona’s roads, up 65 from 2015, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual “Motor Vehicle Crash Facts” report.
It’s the second straight year that fatalities have increased statewide.
As in past years, speeding, impaired driving, and failing to use seat belts were major factors in fatal crashes.
“Too many people make the deadly decision to drive impaired, whether by alcohol, prescription pills or other drugs, and put all of us at risk,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “None of us should accept this selfish behavior and it’s everyone’s business to stop impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.”
The statewide figures don’t reflect local trends.
For Yavapai County, ADOT reported 40 deaths and 1,592 injured in 2016. Those figures are down from 49 deaths and 1,472 injured in 2015, and 43 deaths in 2014.
While there were 170 alcohol-related crashes in the county in 2016, there were six fatalities, down from 11 in 2015 and 10 in 2014.
Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, credited work done by the “dedicated group of (Yavapai) county law enforcement agencies” for the drop in fatal DUI-related crashes, and, he added, “Then you have DPS District 12, who are second to none in DUI enforcement.”
“The gains made in reducing alcohol-related crashes and fatalities are steps in the right direction, but there is still much work to be done,” said Gutier. “Driving impaired is a choice and people need to be aware that it’s a choice they don’t have to make – there are many other ways to get home safely.”
The highest annual number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in Arizona — 1,301 — occurred in 2006. While collisions and fatalities have risen in recent years, 2016 totals are below where they were a decade ago, despite having nearly 1 million more licensed drivers and registered vehicles traveling today on Arizona’s roadways than in 2007.
“Impaired drivers continue to take the lives of our loved ones and it is time for the community to spread the message that impaired driving is unacceptable,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “I call on every driver to call 911 if impaired driving is suspected. Friends and family members must make every effort to take the keys away from impaired individuals or to call 911 for help when intervening.”
Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, noted the decline in the number of fatalities involving people who weren’t using seat belts, which fell from 258 statewide in 2015 to 250 last year.
“While we’re encouraged to see a decrease, one death is still too many,” said Christ. “Make sure everyone is buckled up every time, regardless of how far, fast or familiar your drive may be.”