Traffic deaths in Arizona fell in 2007 - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Traffic deaths in Arizona fell in 2007

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Posted: Monday, August 18, 2008 6:42 am | Updated: 10:59 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Traffic deaths in Arizona are down 18 percent and law enforcement credits tougher DUI laws and photo enforcement for the decline.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Arizona had 1,066 traffic fatalities in 2007, down from 1,293 in 2006.

Across the nation, traffic deaths were the lowest in 13 years with Arizona ranked fifth for the highest percentage reduction in fatalities.

Deaths in all four categories of traffic-related fatalities including vehicles, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists declined from 2006, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Michael Hegarty, deputy director of the Office of Highway Safety, credited a combination of factors, such as stiffer penalties for DUI and photo enforcement, for a safer driving environment.

"For example, public awareness of the harsher DUI penalties, which went into effect in September, may have spurred drivers to think more carefully about unsafe driving," Hegarty said.

Linda Gorman, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona, said drivers may be developing better habits behind the wheel.

"It could be that we're starting to create a safety culture for our roadways," Gorman said.

Expensive gas may also be a factor.

Nationwide, Americans drove slightly less in 2007 than in 2006, partly due to higher gas prices, Gorman said.

Both Gorman and Hegarty agree that Arizona could cut traffic deaths even more if tougher legislation was passed requiring drivers to wear seat belts while increasing the required age for booster seats.

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