A recent study of motorcycle fatalities nationwide gives Arizona some mixed news. But officials say the state is bucking an ugly trend.
In 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 4,810 motorcyclists and their passengers were killed in crashes across America. In Arizona, 142 people died, which is a little less than 3 percent of that total.
|Click to view a map road work in the East Valley|
Every year since 1996, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of such fatalities has risen. And in the years 2004-06, Arizona echoed that movement: 119 deaths to 138 to 142.
However, in the statistics yet to be released, Arizona is showing improvement. In 2007, deaths fell to 135, said Michael Hegarty of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
“That’s still way too many people to die out there, but we at least see it as a good notion we’re finally going away from these national trends,” Hegarty said.
And this development comes in the midst of a boom in the popularity of motorcycles. From 2004 to 2006, motorcycle registrations in Arizona jumped 41 percent to more than 114,000.
Hegarty gives credit to the reduction in fatalities to the advertising campaign called “Ride Safe, Drive Aware.” Launched in early 2007, the ads target both the drivers of motorcycles and four-wheeled vehicles.
Arizona does not mandate helmets for adult motorcyclists . But more riders wearing helmets means more lives saved.
GAS RELATED PITCHES CONTINUE
Following last week’s bit of snark directed at companies using high gas prices as a hook, no matter how weak, to peddle their wares, I had moved on.
Until 11:16 a.m. Monday.
“With gas prices reaching $4 per gallon and the economy in a slump, everyday living has become a struggle for many Arizona residents,” read the e-mail. “However, in the midst of this crisis, one Valley school is making a difference in the local job market by helping people reach their goals through medical aesthetic career education.”
In other words, learning to fire a laser at someone’s wrinkled skin is your path to a full gas tank.
I may have to make this a regular feature.
TRAFFIC LIGHTS TWEAKED IN GILBERT
No one likes getting stuck at red lights. String a few of them together and it can make your commute feel endless. “Gilbert is the worst of all!” wrote one anonymous reader in an e-mail last week.
Town traffic officials say they’ve improved the timing of traffic signals on parts of two of Gilbert’s busiest streets, Val Vista Drive and Williams Field Road.
The new timing schemes were put in place about two weeks ago, Gilbert spokesman Garin Groff said.
Groff said the town hopes drivers have already noticed a difference, but if not, traffic engineers are still looking for places to tweak the timing plan to make things better.
The object behind timing the lights is to get the highest possible volume of cars through the green lights during one cycle.
But traffic patterns have changed from predominantly east-west to more north-south since the Santan Freeway stretch of Loop 202 opened through Gilbert more than a year ago.
Traffic engineers say they’ve been working on that problem for some time.
Williams Field signal times were changed from Parkcrest to SanTan Village Parkway.
On Val Vista Drive, the signal timing was changed from Pecos to Germann roads.
The town is now working on a new timing plan for Val Vista from Baseline to Williams Field roads and expects to have it in place in several weeks.
CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS
• Southbound traffic will be restricted to one lane on Higley Road, from south of Ray Road to Vest Avenue.
• All four directions at Higley and Germann roads will be restricted, with no left turns allowed for northbound or southbound traffic on Higley.
• Traffic will be restricted to one lane on eastbound Guadalupe Road between McQueen and Cooper roads.
• Queen Creek Road is closed from Arizona Avenue to McQueen Road through Sept. 28 while crews widen the road to six lanes.
• Queen Creek Road between Crismon and Signal Butte roads remains closed while crews continue work on the Gilbert CAP waterline.
• Crews will be working on street improvements in the area of Chandler Heights and Hawes roads.
• Ellsworth Road between Germann and Queen Creek roads will be closed next weekend for street widening. Traffic will be detoured for this closure using Rittenhouse, Sossaman and Germann roads.