From the Director: Changing driver behavior is key to reducing traffic fatalities and crashes

From the Director: Changing driver behavior is key to reducing traffic fatalities and crashes

By John Halikowski / ADOT Director
August 4, 2021

The Arizona Department of Transportation just released the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report and the news on traffic deaths isn’t good. Despite lower traffic volume during parts of 2020 due to the pandemic, the number of traffic fatalities rose to its highest level in 12 years.

We lost 1,057 individuals in 2020 compared to 980 in 2019 in traffic collisions. That means 1,057 individuals did not make it safely home to their loved ones. That’s tragic!

What can be done to reduce the number of traffic fatalities? Changing driver behavior is key. 

According to the report, leading factors in traffic fatalities include speeding, impairment, reckless driving and not wearing a seatbelt. We need drivers to stop speeding and make safe lane changes. We need both drivers and passengers to wear seat belts at all times. Being an alert and safe driver means everyone can make it safely home each and every day.

There is some good news in the crash facts report. We saw a decrease in the number of alcohol-related fatalities from 181 deaths in 2020 compared to 258 in 2019, a 30% drop. Motorcycle-related fatalities were also down from 170 deaths in 2019 to 160 in 2020.

ADOT has developed and implemented several important safety measures on state highways or freeways to help reduce traffic fatalities and crashes. They include:

  • A dust detection system on Interstate 10 in southern Arizona. The system alerts drivers of a dust storm using overhead message boards and employs variable speed limit signs to instruct drivers to slow down. 
  • Our wrong-way driving detection system also uses the digital overhead message boards to warn drivers to take the nearest exit to avoid a crash, illuminates wrong-way signage at exit ramps and alerts law enforcement agencies immediately where the wrong-way driver is on the freeway.

ADOT’s annual crash facts report is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided 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.

ADOT and other state agencies can’t solve the problem alone of reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries because more than two-thirds of crashes occur on roads other than state highways. 

Let’s all do our part to change driver behavior and reduce the number of traffic fatalities and crashes in Arizona. If you have a new or young teen driver in the family, be a good example of what a safe driver should be. Don’t speed. Don’t text. Use your turn signal. Make safe lane changes. Wear your seat belt and insist all passengers do the same. 

I want you to arrive safely home to your loved ones, each and every day!