In 2017, driver behavior continued to be the leading factor in traffic fatalities in Arizona. Alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs played a role in 43 percent of traffic deaths in Arizona last year.
Traffic deaths in Arizona rose for the third straight year, climbing to 1,000 in 2017, and, yet again, impairment, speeding and reckless driving, and failure to wear a seat belt are leading factors in traffic fatalities.
ADOT produces the annual Crash Facts Report, which 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 and state highways.
Though traffic fatalities increased from 2016 to 2017, which follows a national trend, the total number of people injured in crashes (55,474) decreased from last year and the total number of crashes, statistically, stayed flat – in Arizona there were 127,064 crashes in 2017 and 127,039 in 2016. According to the data, speeding and reckless driving was the most common driver violation in all collisions and 285 people were killed in speed-related crashes.
Pedestrians account for nearly a quarter of the 1,000 killed in vehicle crashes. Pedestrian-related fatalities have climbed from 155 in 2014 to 226 in 2017. Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas on city streets and county roads. Pedestrians should cross streets only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see them.
The rising number of traffic fatalities can’t be solved by state agencies alone – 69 percent of crashes occur on roads other than state highways. In fact, real change must begin in the driver’s seat because driver behavior is a factor in more than 90 percent of crashes.
The number of people killed not wearing seat belts fell for the third year in a row – from 258 in 2015, 250 in 2016 and 230 in 2017 – but unbuckled occupants still account for nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities.
Officially, there were 9,693 drivers involved in “distracted driving behavior” that were involved in collisions, including 33 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.