By Dallas Hammit / ADOT State Engineer
At ADOT, our No. 1 goal is for everyone to get home safely.
Of course, we cannot accomplish that goal alone. We need drivers to help by making better choices behind the wheel. There are too many preventable collisions, fatalities and injuries occurring on Arizona’s roads.
We know this because ADOT publishes the Motor Vehicle Crash Facts Report every year. The report is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided to ADOT by law enforcement agencies around the state. The report reflects crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.
According to the latest report, Arizona saw fewer crashes, fewer fatal crashes, fewer injury crashes and fewer crash-caused injuries on its roadways in 2018 compared to 2017. However, despite reductions in those key areas, the number of total traffic fatalities increased by 2%.
Here are some other key takeaways from the report:
- From 2017 to 2018, Arizona saw fewer deaths in alcohol-related crashes, speeding-related crashes and those not wearing seat belts. In fact, alcohol-related fatalities were reduced significantly last year, falling from 324 in 2017 to 261 in 2018. These reductions were accomplished despite Arizona seeing its total licensed drivers grow by nearly 90,000 to 5.3 million and the total number of vehicles registered in the state surpass 6 million for the first time.
- The number of people killed not wearing seat belts fell for the fourth year in a row — from 258 in 2015 to 216 in 2018 — but unbuckled occupants still account for more than a fifth of all traffic fatalities.
- Total crashes and fatalities involving motorcycles and bicyclists also saw a decrease. The total number of collisions involving motorcycles fell by 6% and fatalities dropped from 161 in 2017 to 150 in 2018. Collisions involving bicyclists saw a 14.6% decrease and fatalities (24) fell to the lowest total since 2012.
- Pedestrians account for nearly a quarter of the 1,021 killed in vehicle crashes. Pedestrian-related fatalities have climbed from 155 in 2014 to 245 in 2018. Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas and pedestrians should cross streets only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see them.
- Officially, there were 11,898 drivers engaged in “distracted driving behavior” that were involved in collisions, including 42 fatal crashes. However, it is widely accepted that number of crashes caused by distracted drivers is much higher than reported because distracted drivers that cause crashes typically don’t admit to the act or died in the crash.
So, what can we learn from the data? I think it shows that all of us have a big responsibility and as drivers, we need to reflect on our behaviors and make adjustments. I encourage you to visit ADOT’s Focus on Driving website for safe-driving tips and as always, please share what you learn with your family and loved ones.
Editor's Note: More safety messages from Dallas Hammit, ADOT's state engineer and deputy director for transportation, are available at Driving Safety Home on azdot.gov.