Arizona's rural roads have a fatality rate more than twice as high as all other roads in the state, according to a report released last week.
Arizona's rural roads rank as the seventh-most deadly in the country, according to the "Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America's Heartland" report from TRIP, a national transportation research group based in Washington, D.C.
The study used the Federal Transportation Administration's definition of rural roads, which are roads that pass through areas with a population of 5,000 people or fewer. Rural areas are considered counties that lack an urban area with a population of at least 50,000 people or do not have a large number of commuters from an urban county.
In 2012, Arizona had a traffic fatality rate of 2.66 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles of travel on rural non-interstate roads, compared with 1.11 fatalities per capita on all other state roads. There were 2.21 deaths for every 100 million vehicle miles driven in the United States as a whole.
The state with the fewest fatalities per capita on its rural roads was New Hampshire, with 1.16 deaths.
Numerous factors can contribute to deadly rural roads, including inadequate roadway safety features, said Carolyn Bonifas Kelly, the associate director of research and communication for TRIP. Officials from the Arizona Department of Transportation say they are constantly trying to improve roads and promote safer driving.
(As an attorney who is litigating MULTIPLE cases against the State of Arizona, let me say this: We’ll believe it when we see it.)
"We can't engineer our way to better traffic safety," said Mark Poppe, an ADOT traffic engineer. "It requires all four 'Es' — engineering, enforcement, education and emergency response." Poppe cited numerous current ADOT projects to improve safety, such as widening lanes on U.S. 93 that goes from Wickenburg to Las Vegas and installing "rumble strips" or "wake up grooves" along the sides of roads to make noise if a driver starts driving out of his or her lane.
(What about median barriers on the State’s highways to prevent crossover traffic deaths????)
He added that distracted or drowsy drivers and longer emergency-vehicle response times to the state's remote areas also could contribute to the fatality figures.
(Yep. It is ALWAYS the drivers’ faults. People are dying on the Arizona highways. There are relatively easy fixes. Still, the State only talks a good story….)