Traffic fatalities in Arizona reached a 3-year low in 2019

Crashes involving distracted drivers fall 11.8%

PHOENIX – Traffic crash fatalities on Arizona roadways in 2019 fell to their lowest total in three years, according to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report published Tuesday, June 30.

Total traffic crash fatalities was one of several key measurements that decreased in 2019 from 2018. The 2019 report also tallied fewer pedestrian fatalities, alcohol-related fatalities, fatalities of those not wearing seat belts and distracted drivers involved in crashes compared to the previous year.

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 report reflects crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.

While the total number of fatalities decreased, the total number of crashes in Arizona rose by 1.6% from 2018 to 2019. In the same timespan, Arizona saw the total number of licensed drivers increase by 1.3% to 5.38 million.

Reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries can’t be solved by state agencies alone because 68% 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% of collisions. Some of those behaviors saw better results in 2019 than recent years, but there are still too many preventable crashes, fatalities and injuries occurring on Arizona’s roads.

The report shows that at least 10,491 drivers involved in collisions during 2019 engaged in “distracted driving behavior.” This is an 11.8% decrease from 2018, when the figure was 11,898. In April 2019, when Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2318, it became illegal for drivers to talk or text on a cellphone while driving unless the device is in a hands-free mode.

Arizona continues to see fewer deaths related to drinking and driving and not wearing seat belts. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased for the third straight year, falling 21% since 2017, and the 256 fatalities in 2019 is the lowest total since 2010. The number of people killed not wearing seat belts fell for the fifth year in a row – from 258 in 2015 to 211 in 2019 – but unbuckled occupants still account for about a fifth of all traffic fatalities.

Pedestrian fatalities fell to their lowest total since 2016, with 220 in 2019. Most pedestrian fatalities occur on surface streets in urban areas, and pedestrians should cross streets only at marked crosswalks where drivers expect to see them.

Crashes involving bicyclists and motorcycles continued a years-long downward trend. The 1,275 total crashes involving bicyclists in 2019 are the fewest since at least 1991 – crashes involving bikes peaked in 2012 with 2,146. Crashes involving motorcycles declined for the third straight year and reached their lowest total (2,676) since 2004. Yet, despite the decrease in crashes for these categories, each saw a year-over-year increase in bicyclists and motorcycle operators and passengers killed in vehicle collisions.

The full 2019 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.

 

Temporary increased truck weight limits extended through July 30

Eased limits are for commercial loads with critical supplies

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation has extended through July 30 the temporary higher weight limits for commercial trucks hauling critical supplies and goods during the current public health situation.

In response to a national emergency declaration, and to align with the temporary increase in truck weights by neighboring states, ADOT in early April raised the gross weight limit for commercial vehicles to 90,000 pounds without the need for an overweight permit, up from the normal 80,000 pounds. That temporary measure, previously extended to June 30, will now remain in effect until July 30.

For more information, visit azdot.gov.

COVID-19 pandemic: DOT to provide more than 15 million cloth facial coverings to essential workers

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Photo: andresr/iStockphoto

Washington — The Department of Transportation has announced it will distribute about 15.5 million cloth facial coverings to transportation workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified transportation workers as essential and among those in “critical infrastructure” occupations.

“Transportation workers are on the front lines of keeping our transportation systems operational during this public health emergency and their well-being and safety is paramount,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a May 28 press release.

Distribution of facial coverings by industry is as follows:

  • Mass transit and passenger rail: 4.8 million
  • Aviation: 3.8 million
  • Maritime: 2.4 million
  • Freight rail: 2.2 million
  • Highway and motor carrier: 2.1 million
  • Pipeline systems: 258,000

FEMA secured the facial coverings, which are expected to be distributed via the U.S. Postal Service “over the coming weeks.”

Operation Safe Driver Week is July 12-18 With a Focus on Speeding

CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week will go on as scheduled, July 12-18. Law enforcement personnel throughout North America will be looking for drivers who are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors on our roadways. Identified drivers will be pulled over by law enforcement and may be issued a warning or citation. CVSA selected speeding as the focus area for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week to address the alarming trend of increased speeding on our roadways during the pandemic. Read More»

CVSA Supports the Motor Carrier Safety Grant Relief Act of 2020

CVSA applauds Senators Wicker, Cantwell, Thune, Fischer and Duckworth, as well as the Commerce Committee, for their support of this legislation and urges passage by the full Senate. The Alliance has been advocating for relief for commercial motor vehicle safety programs to provide states and territories with needed flexibility as a result of the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. Read More

Operation Safe Driver Week slated for July 12-18

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Photo: Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance

Greenbelt, MD — Law enforcement officers are expected to keep an extra sharp watch for commercial and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe behaviors July 12-18 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week.

Officers will be looking for drivers who are texting, following too closely, not wearing seat belts or maneuvering in otherwise unsafe manners, while placing added emphasis on speeding.

A May 12 CVSA press release cites recent findings from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing that state highway officials nationwide “are seeing a severe spike in speeding” as traffic volume has decreased as a result of quarantines and stay-at-home orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that, in March, the rate of motor vehicle deaths in the United States was 14% higher than in March 2019 despite fewer drivers being on the road.

CMV and passenger vehicle drivers in North America received nearly 47,000 citations and around 88,000 warnings during last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, per data collected from law enforcement personnel. Citations and warnings related to speeding were most common, with CMV drivers receiving 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings, and passenger vehicle drivers receiving 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings.

“It’s essential that this enforcement initiative, which focuses on identifying and deterring unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, go on as scheduled,” CVSA President John Samis said in the release. “As passenger vehicle drivers are limiting their travel to necessary trips and many [CMV] drivers are busy transporting vital goods to stores, it’s more important than ever to monitor our roadways for safe transport.”

ADOT Safety Message Contest finalists announced

Vote for your favorite at azdot.gov/signcontest

PHOENIX – Need a fun distraction for a few minutes? The Arizona Department of Transportation has you covered.

2020 ADOT Message Contest Voting GraphicIt’s time to vote for your favorite in ADOT’s fourth annual Safety Message Contest. From Monday, May 11, through Sunday, May 17, you can pick your favorite from among the 12 finalists and vote at azdot.gov/signcontest.

“In these unprecedented times, we can all use a distraction that makes us smile, even if it’s just for a moment, and taking a look at the best of the contest’s message entries can, hopefully, do that,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said.

Arizonans submitted more than 4,000 messages that covered a variety of traffic safety topics, including, texting and driving, impaired driving, blinker use, tailgating, seat belts, child safety seats and more. The two finalists that receive the most votes will be displayed on Dynamic Message Signs statewide.

ADOT began displaying unconventional safety messages on overhead signs in 2015 as part of an effort to encourage drivers to make better decisions behind the wheel. According to national traffic statistics, more than 90% of vehicle crashes are caused by driver decisions, including choosing to speed and to drive distracted, impaired or recklessly.

“For the past four years the safety message contest has generated tremendous engagement with the public, and it’s wonderful to see,” Halikowski added. “We want to see people thinking and talking about safe driving, and the contest helps further that effort.”

ADOT extends raised truck weight limits for delivery of essentials

Eased limits for loads with critical supplies continuing through May

Truck at port of entry

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation has extended higher weight limits for commercial trucks hauling critical supplies and goods that Arizona communities are relying on during the current public health situation.

Coordinating with Governor Ducey, ADOT in early April raised the gross weight limit for commercial vehicles to 90,000 pounds without the need for an overweight permit, up from the normal 80,000 pounds. That temporary measure, set to expire on April 30, has now been extended to the end of May.

“These temporary rules are helping ensure Arizona’s groceries, pharmacies and medical providers remain adequately supplied,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said.

The temporary weight limits apply to commercial vehicles that are providing direct assistance to COVID-19 relief efforts as outlined in a federal emergency declaration issued in March. This includes, among other essential items, medical supplies related to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, supplies necessary for community safety and preventing the spread of COVID-19, and food and household items for emergency restocking of stores.

ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division officers have implemented the new weight protocol at commercial ports of entry. Commercial vehicles will continue to be required to comply with state and federal regulations, and officers will continue to conduct safety inspections and issue permits as needed.

Ports of entry at state lines and international borders remain open and staffed by ADOT officers and other staff to screen commercial vehicles to ensure the safe flow of commodities and supplies while supporting federal guidelines to keep America’s commerce moving.

For information on other steps ADOT has taken to support Arizonans during the current public health situation, please visit azdot.gov/covid-19-resource-center.

For the latest updates on COVID-19 in Arizona, please visit azhealth.gov/covid19. For resources and information about Arizona’s response to COVID-19, please visit ArizonaTogether.org

ADOT offering virtual training to truck drivers in Mexico

Webinars help officers continue promoting commerce during pandemic

BLU Webinar Presentation

PHOENIX – An Arizona Department of Transportation program that helps truck drivers in Mexico better understand and prepare for safety inspections at the border is using technology to provide virtual training during the current public health situation.

The goal of this training offered by ADOT’s Border Liaison Unit is reducing commercial vehicle wait times at the international border by cutting down on safety problems and other issues that truck drivers must address before leaving commercial ports of entry. That helps make Arizona’s ports more appealing places for trucks to enter the U.S.

Part of ADOT’s Enforcement and Compliance Division, which operates commercial ports of entry, the Border Liaison Unit offered its first training by webinar recently for 30 trucking companies from the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California. More sessions are planned.

“The webinar was a huge success,” said Officer Frank Cordova of the Border Liaison Unit. “We’re looking to make webinar-based workshops a staple of the training we provide, as it allows us to reach even further into Mexico and the U.S. to continue educating the commercial industry.”

The Border Liaison Unit saw an increase in inquiries from Mexican truckers regarding current emergency restrictions and exemptions for commercial vehicles due to COVID-19. Future sessions will cover safety training previously conducted in person such as electronic log books and critical items officers look for in inspections.

That assistance complements International Border Inspection Qualification training that ADOT has offered in person since 2016. Drivers certified through that program are able to share questions and pictures of their vehicles via WhatsApp and communicate with ADOT officers about potential safety issues before driving to the border.

Meeting this demand with a webinar helps ADOT officers and commercial truck drivers observe social distancing. Longer-term, offering virtual instruction reduces travel expenses.

“I’m very proud of this unit for finding ways to continue to work with our local and international partners in the trucking industry,” Cordova said. “Even a pandemic won’t keep us from doing the job we’re passionate about.”