According to a recent report by TRIP, a national non-profit transportation research organization, the State of Arizona now has the deadliest interstates in the country, with a fatality rate of 1.09 deaths for every 100 million miles traveled. Every other state was at or below 1.0 death for every 100 million miles of vehicular travel. Despite the ominous distinction, it has been worse:  In 2019, Arizona traffic fatalities reached a three-year low.

So what is causing this increase in the fatality rate on Arizona’s freeways? It is not the physical condition of Arizona’s freeway system, which ranks among the best in the country. For one thing, interstate freeway travel in Arizona has increased 15 percent since 2000, so more motorists are driving upon freeways, leading to more collisions and, tragically, more fatalities. The Arizona Department of Transportation, or ADOT, believes the culprit is driver behavior, and notes that among the collisions that killed 642 people on Arizona freeways from 2015 through 2019:

  • 43 percent involved speeding;
  • 36 percent involved an impaired driver;
  • 41 percent of those who suffered fatal injuries were not using a safety device (seatbelt or child restraint seat)

Despite all the carnage, ADOT noted some positive trends, in that pedestrian fatalities, alcohol-related fatalities, fatalities among those not wearing seatbelts and distracted driving all showed decreases in 2019.

Travel safely, folks.