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Arizona Traffic Fatalities Reached A 15-Year High In 2021; U.S. Data Shows

According to the latest data from the NHTSA, over 42,900 people died on American roads in 2021, becoming the highest number recorded in 16 years. Going by the statistics, an average of 117 people lost their lives every day on American roads in 2021.

Arizona recorded the highest fatalities in 15 years as the state saw a 6.5 percent increase in the fatality rate from 2020, one of the worst years in recent history.

According to government records, Arizona’s total number of fatalities for 2021 stood at 1,212. The last time Arizona saw such high numbers was in 2006. However, fatality rates have steadily increased since they were at their lowest in 2010 at 759 deaths.

Speeding and COVID Pandemic Factors to Blame

“Speeding is becoming an increasingly huge factor in accidents, and it only got worse with the pandemic,” says car accident lawyer Ryan McPhie of Grand Canyon Law Group. When addressing the matter, Alberto Gutier, the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s executive director, said that speeding and failure of the public to follow the rules is the biggest challenge.

After the traffic fatalities had an uptick in 2020, the year with the lowest volume of cars on the road, experts cited empty roads, stress, and little to no traffic enforcement as the main contributors to the spike.

While the conditions hadn’t changed much in 2021, the year saw a significantly higher traffic volume than the previous year and more enforcement, but the trends are still headed in the wrong direction.

Arizona Performed Better

Despite the rise in fatalities in Arizona, the state performed better than the 10.5 percent increase national average. Also, the 6.5 percent increase was quite an improvement from earlier in the year when the trend pointed to an 18 percent increase.

According to NHTSA data, the DUI-related fatalities rate rose by 5 percent nationally. Arizona, however, registered a decline in alcohol-related fatalities, a trend that has been ongoing since, with 2019 recording 258 DUI fatalities, 220 in 2020, and 205 in 2021.

According to Terri Bowen of MADD, Arizona, any fatality resulting from DUI is tragic and calls for increased efforts towards promoting public awareness of the dangers of drunk driving.

Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona’s strict laws on drunk driving played a huge role in decreasing the number of DUI-related fatalities. Upon a conviction with DUI in Arizona, a first-time offender faces not less than 10 days in jail and a fine. For a second conviction, the driver faces not less than 90 days.

Arizona was also among the first states to adopt ignition interlock laws that require drivers convicted of DUI to have an alcohol sensing device installed in their vehicles.

Once installed, the device requires the driver to breathe into it before starting the vehicle. If the driver’s blood alcohol content exceeds the legal limit, the device prevents the car from starting.

Better Infrastructure Underway

Part of the problem is with the road infrastructure. Under the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, Arizona is set to receive $5 billion in the next five years.

According to the US DOT, the funds are meant to fund the construction of safe highways and bridges. The state will also receive another $36 million to improve existing highway safety and fund traffic safety programs.

According to the president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the key to road safety calls for a partnership between the community, the police, the judiciary, and the legislature.