PHOENIX – Traffic fatalities on Arizona’s local roads and state highways climbed higher for the second straight year and driver behavior continues to be a leading factor in motor vehicle collisions, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report.
In 2016, 962 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, 65 more than the year before, representing a 7.3 percent increase. The number of collisions also went up, rising 8.6 percent to 126,845. The increases in motor vehicle crashes and fatalities in Arizona follow national trends.
The Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided to ADOT by law enforcement agencies around the state. A glance at the report reveals how better decisions made by motorists can save lives. Seat belts, speeding and reckless driving, and impairment are among the leading factors in traffic fatalities:
- Buckle up – 250 of those killed last year weren’t using a seat belt.
- Pay attention and obey speed limits – Speeding too fast for conditions is the most common driver violation and rear end is the most common manner of collision.
- Don’t drive impaired – Annually, impaired driving crashes account for about 4 percent of all collisions and one-third of fatal collisions. Crashes involving impairment related to alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription medication killed 406 people and injured 4,089 in 2016.
“Making travel safer begins before drivers turn the ignition,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “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. None of us should accept this selfish behavior and it’s everyone's business to stop impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.”
For the second year in a row, 406 people were killed in impaired driving-related collisions. However, alcohol-related fatalities decreased – falling from 329 people killed in 2015 to 307 in 2016 – while fatalities related to illegal drugs or prescription medication increased – rising from 77 in 2015 to 99 people killed in 2016.
“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 Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “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 one 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 love 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.”
Pedestrian-involved crashes and fatalities spiked in 2016. The number of pedestrians killed rose to 197 in 2016 from 163 the year before and crashes increased by 16 percent, from 1,408 in 2015 to 1,637 last year.
The number of motorcycle operators and passengers killed in traffic crashes went up in 2016 to 144 from 134 the year before.
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 in 2015 to 250 last year.
“While we’re encouraged to see a decrease, one death is still too many,” said Dr. Christ. “Make sure everyone is buckled up every time, regardless of how far, fast or familiar your drive may be.”
Here are other figures from the 2016 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report:
- 574 fatal crashes occurred on other roadways, such as county roads or city streets, and 291 fatal crashes occurred on the state highway system.
- 525 fatalities occurred in urban areas and 437 deaths occurred in rural areas.
- Of all alcohol-related crashes, 78.8 percent occurred in urban areas and 21.2 percent in rural areas.
- Among fatal crashes related to alcohol, 67 percent occurred in urban areas and 33 percent occurred in rural areas.
- One person was killed in a motor vehicle crash every 9.11 hours.
- Seven in 10 crashes occurred during daylight hours.
- More crashes occurred in March than any other month with 11,391.
- Friday was the peak day of the week for all crashes during 2016 with 22,133, while the most fatal crashes – 150 – occurred on Saturdays.
The ADOT 2016 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.
ADOT, other public safety agencies and partner organizations work to promote safety on all roadways through the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Plan, a framework for reducing motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries. Emphasis areas addressed in the report include speeding and reckless driving, impaired driving, occupant protection, motorcycle safety and distracted driving.