Arizona Officials Report Decline in Crashes Between 2009 and 2010

Arizona roadways saw a more than 5 percent reduction in deaths in 2010 from the previous year, according to new data from transportation officials.

There were 106,177 auto crashes statewide last year—including 762 fatalities—according to the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) report, which was based on reports from state, local and other law enforcement sources. That was down from 107,094 collisions and 806 deaths in 2009.

The number of both total and fatal crashes has dropped significantly in recent years. In 2006, there were 143,503 crashes involving 1,126 deaths—the state’s highest total on record—according to the report.

Arizona crash costsThe decrease in highway deaths in the Grand Canyon state mirrors a nationwide trend over the past several years.

About 33,800 people died in vehicle crashes in 2009, down nearly 10 percent from the roughly 37,500 killed the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Fatalities in 2009 were at their lowest level since 1950, despite a 0.2 percent increase from the previous year in the number of vehicle miles traveled, NHTSA reported.

ADOT Director John Halikowski said the improved crash statistics underscore his department’s dedication to improving public safety through efforts such as making highway signs easier to read and adding lanes in targeted areas.

The annual report states that 223 people died in alcohol-related fatal crashes in 2010, a roughly 16.5 percent decline from the previous year. And the share of fatalities involving alcohol fell by 30 percent in that time frame.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, called that “a testimony to the state legislature’s efforts to make our DUI laws among the strongest in the nation.”

The ADOT report also points out that auto crashes were responsible for nearly $2.7 billion in economic losses last year, including nearly $605 million in property damages.

The state statistics could have insurance implications for Arizona drivers, as well.

The area in which a policyholder lives—and the incidence of crashes there—are factors that underwriters consider in setting rates, along with other criteria such as age, gender and driving record.

The Insurance Information Institute has stated that the place where a motorist garages his or her vehicle is among the most accurate predictors of future loss and one that is commonly used to evaluate risk.

That means that fewer crashes could be good news for consumers who are looking to renew or buy new Arizona car insurance policies.

About Gregor McGavin
Gregor McGavin is an award-winning journalist who has reported across the country for such publications as The Associated Press, the Arizona Republic, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Press-Enterprise.

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