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As the State of Arizona prepares to issue a comprehensive report on traffic accidents for last year, a look at the 2008 traffic report provides an in-depth look at traffic safety in The Grand Canyon State. A total of 937 people were killed in 842 fatal Arizona traffic accidents in 2008. In all, 119,588 Arizona traffic accidents were reported, injuring more than 56,000, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Crash statistics for last year will be released in the coming weeks. Nationwide, more than 6 million crashes killed 41,059 people, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported.Urban accidents were responsible for the majority of the state’s traffic crashes, with 81,566 accidents, compared to 23,113 in rural areas. However, more people were killed in rural accidents. Of accident types: –Arizona bicycle accidents accounted for 1,989 crashes. -Pedestrian accidents in Arizona were responsible for 1,524 traffic crashes. -Motorcycle accidents accounted for 3,531 traffic collisions in Arizona. -24,161 single-vehicle crashes were reported. -Multi-vehicle crashes were the primary type of traffic accidents, with 95,427 reported. Drunk driving accidents accounted for about one-third of all fatal traffic accidents in 2008, with 294 of 842 deadly accidents blamed on impaired drivers. Of fatal accidents: -414 occurred in urban areas. -523 occurred in rural areas. -114 young drivers under the age of 24 were killed. Other findings include: -February was the peak month for crashes. -More accidents occurred on Friday than any other day of the week. -Early evening rush hour — between 4 and 5 p.m.– was the most dangerous time on the roads. -Saturday was the deadliest day of the week. -Rear-end collisions were the most common type of traffic accident in Arizona. -The most common citation issued to drivers was “speed too fast for conditions.”

A Phoenix traffic crash resulted in 3 people being seriously hurt Monday afternoon when two cars and a tour bus collided. The accident took place at 32nd Street and Greenway Road, according to A car moving southbound turned left and was hit by a northbound vehicle. One of the cars then struck the bus that was stopped at a red light. The tour bus was carrying forty 5th graders and seven adults. They were driving back to Paradise Valley School after visiting Northern Arizona University. No one was seriously injured on the bus. The 3 people riding in the cars were not as lucky, and all suffered serious injuries. They were all taken by ambulance to area hospitals. Under Arizona law, the driver of a vehicle turning left at an intersection has to yield the right-of-way to a vehicle coming from the other direction that is close enough to be considered a hazard. Here, the injured parties will all have a civil claim against the left turning driver. Click here to read the entire story. Click here to read the Arizona left turn statute, ARS § 28-772.

In 2008, Arizona traffic accidents totaled 119,588, including 842 fatal accidents that claimed 937 lives, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Total accidents declined by more than 15 percent, compared to the 141,092 crashes reported in 2007. Authorities will be watching the numbers carefully when the state releases 2009 figures in the coming weeks to see if that trend continues.While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports a reduction in traffic accidents nationwide, from 37,261 in 2008 to 33,963 in 2009, some experts point to the weak economy and high unemployment as primary causes and believe serious and fatal accidents will rebound with an economic recovery. The stats in Arizona give validity to that argument: 2004: 138,899 crashes claimed 1,159 lives 2005: 140,574 crashes claimed 1,193 lives 2006: 143,093 crashes claimed 1,300 lives 2007: 141,092 crashes claimed 1,071 lives 2008: 119,588 crashes claimed 937 lives With the upcoming publication of last year’s statistics, comparison to a number of 2008 metrics will be useful: -Approximately 2.57 people a day were killed in Arizona traffic accidents; or one person every 9.36 hours. -About 153 people a day were injured; or one person every 10 minutes. -Alcohol was involved in about one-third of all fatal Arizona traffic accidents. Of those, 4 out of 5 occurred in urban areas. -7 out of 10 crashes occurred during daylight hours. -Arizona traffic crashes caused more than $2.8 billion in damages. -33 children under the age of 14 were killed in motor vehicle accidents and 4,510 were injured.

In a bizarre Phoenix area pedestrian vs. car accident, a police officer in Mesa fatally hit a woman who was lying in the road on Thursday night, according to The officer was heading east on Apache Trail in the area of 96th Street when he suddenly saw a pair of feet in front of him. He tried to stop in time, but could not avoid hitting her. The woman, who has not yet been identified, was trapped under the unmarked police car after the accident. She was rushed by helicopter to Maricopa County Medical Center, but did not survive and was pronounced dead on arrival. The woman was approximately 50 years old. After the accident a man claiming to be her boyfriend arrived at the accident site and said she had been drinking. The accident is still being investigated by the Mesa Police Department. Believe it or not, this type of accident does occur once in a while in Arizona. According to ADOT, in 2008 alone, 5 people were killed and 3 others were injured while laying in the road.

Authorities credit red-light cameras for a 7 percent decline in Mesa car accidents last year, The Arizona Republic reported. While the number of fatal crashes in 2009 remained flat at 29 compared to 2008, police contend photo enforcement at 36 intersections has reduced the overall number of serious Mesa traffic accidents. In addition to the intersection cams, the city has also deployed six stationary speed cameras and six photo-enforcement vans. Authorities review density maps and areas with a high number of collisions in determining where to place the cameras.Roadways most targeted include the most-traveled and longest streets in Mesa, including Southern Avenue, which has 10 cameras, and Broadway Road, which has five. Power Road also has five intersection cameras, while Stapley, Mesa and University drives each have four cameras. Through Dec. 15 of last year, police used the cameras to issue 23,533 citations to drivers traveling 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit. More than 18,000 citations were issued to red-light runners during the same period. The speeding fines cost drivers $171.25, which red-light runners were fined $218.50. Of the speeding violations, Mesa Municipal Court reports that 8,488 were either dismissed by the police department or dismissed by the court because the driver wasn’t served the ticket. For red-light violations, 6,139 were dismissed. Through the first four months of this year, about 27 percent fewer tickets have been issued; police hope part of the reason is because motorists are doing a better job of complying with the law, though they acknowledge some drivers are likely using extra caution because they are now aware of the cameras’ presence. Either way, the program is having the intended impact of reducing Mesa car accidents.

A Phoenix bus, involved in a fatal Arizona bus accident that claimed six lives last month, was being driven so erratically that several motorists called 911 shortly before it plunged off the freeway and overturned, the Arizona Republic reported. A 130-page report was released this week by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, detailing several safety violations, including brake problems, poor maintenance and driver logbook violations. The report also said the driver was believed to be going too fast and may have fallen asleep at the wheel. However, no specific cause of the crash was identified in the report and no citations have been issued, pending a review by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office. The March 5 accident occurred when the bus crashed into a pickup truck on Interstate 10 as it was traveling to Los Angeles from central Mexico. The bus veered into the median and then back across several lanes, before rolling into a ditch. Six of 22 passengers were killed. A drug expert concluded the driver was not impaired. However, authorities report he has changed his story several times during interviews with investigators. Motorists reported the bus was speeding, tailgating several semis and driving erratically through traffic. Police report the bus driver was incapable of reading or speaking English, as required by Arizona law, and did not have his logbook up to date. Documents report that the owner of Tierra Santa, the Los Angeles-area company that owns the bus, tried to take out insurance on the bus after the crash.

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