Arizona motor vehicle crash deaths on the rise

Speeding, impairment and lack of seat belt use remain leading fatality factors

In 2016, 962 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, 65 more than the year before, representing a 7.3 percent increase.

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In 2016, 962 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, 65 more than the year before, representing a 7.3 percent increase.

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 (ADOT) 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.

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.

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 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.

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.

2016 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report:

574 fatal crashes occurred on roadways, such as county roads or city streets, and 291 fatal crashes occurred on the state highways;

525 fatalities occurred in urban areas, 437 deaths occurred 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.

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