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Traffic fatalities in Arizona rise for third straight year

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Arizona Department of Transportation

Traffic fatalities in Arizona rise for third straight year

Traffic fatalities in Arizona rose again in 2022, according to the state’s annual report on motor vehicle crashes on all roads, including local streets. 

LEARN MORE: Legislature passes Prop. 400 that boosts transportation infrastructure 

There were 1,294 traffic fatalities across the state last year, an increase of 8.6% compared to 2021, according to the 2022 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report. Figures show crashes associated with inappropriate speed and speeding accounted for a greater share of deaths and injuries, providing a sobering reminder for Arizonans to avoid such unsafe driving behaviors.

Pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist deaths all increased last year. Overall, the 2022 traffic fatality total is the second-highest ever recorded in Arizona and only slightly behind the 1,301 deaths recorded in 2006. The number of traffic fatalities in the state has gone up every year since 2019. Injuries from crashes totaled 52,411 during 2022, a slight increase from 2021. 

The Arizona Department of Transportation produces the annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, which is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided by law enforcement agencies around the state. The document reflects reported crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.

Fatalities are driven mostly by driver behavior, primarily involving speed, failure to use safety devices such as seat belts and motorcycle helmets, and impairment. 

“Every single traffic fatality is an unspeakable loss for families and for this state,” ADOT Director Jennifer Toth said. “ADOT and our law enforcement partners need every driver, pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist working together to prevent crashes, injuries and deaths.”

More traffic fatalities, 821 in 2022 versus 723 in 2021, occurred on local roads or non-state highways. There were roughly the same number of fatalities on state highways in 2022: 473 versus 469 in 2021.

Among factors cited, speed – determined by law enforcement to be unlawful or too fast for conditions – was reported in serious crashes resulting in 426 fatalities and 20,069 injuries during 2022. This accounted for 32.9% and 38.3% of the totals, respectively. During 2021, speed was a factor in 371 fatalities and 19,571 injuries, accounting for 31.1% and 37.8% of the totals, respectively. 

“We are seeing an increase in both traffic and fatal collisions,” said Major Jason Leonard, Chief of Staff of the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol Division. “Most of these collisions are preventable if drivers do two things. First, avoid distractions and remain focused on the task of driving. Second, be patient and drive within the law, especially relating to speed, passing and distracted driving. It is imperative that everyone in your vehicle properly utilizes seatbelts and/or car seats to reduce injury in the event of a collision. Your safety is far more important than the time you arrive, or anything on your mobile device.”

  • There were 302 pedestrian fatalities during 2022, a 16.2% increase from 260 in 2021. Forty-eight bicyclists died in crashes during 2022 compared to 45 in 2021. Bicycle-related fatalities have risen each year since 2018.
  • There were 228 motorcyclist fatalities in crashes during 2022, a 36.5% increase from 167 during 2021. Nearly three times as many motorcycle crashes involved riders and passengers wearing helmets, yet 42% of the fatalities in which authorities could determine helmet use involved riders and passengers who weren’t wearing helmets.
  • Overall, failure to use a safety device, such as a seat belt or helmet, declined slightly in 2022 as a factor in traffic fatalities. The 364 fatalities and 944 injuries from not using a safety device, accounting for 38.6% and 6.6% of the totals, respectively. In 2021, there were 379 fatalities and 3,224 injuries in which individuals didn’t use safety devices, accounting for 42.7% and 6.6% of the totals, respectively.
  • Alcohol-related crashes resulting in fatalities also saw a slight decline during 2022. There were 223 fatalities and 3,538 injuries in crashes related to alcohol, accounting for 17.2% and 6.8% of the totals, respectively. During 2021, there were 253 fatalities and 3,617 injuries in alcohol-related crashes, accounting for 21.2% and 7% of the totals, respectively.