DPS urges drivers to buckle up

Almost all of us will hop into a car or SUV in the next day or two. Most of us drive to and from work, some will use the car to go grocery shopping while others take it simply to run errands. Whatever the reason, everyday hundreds of thousands of vehicles

Almost all of us will hop into a car or SUV in the next day or two. Most of us drive to and from work, some will use the car to go grocery shopping while others take it simply to run errands. Whatever the reason, everyday hundreds of thousands of vehicles pack our Valley roadways.

On almost all of those trips, or even on the longer ones for vacation, the driver and passengers make it there and back safe. Unfortunately as we saw this weekend sometimes that doesn't happen.

"Yesterday (Sunday) we had a tire blow out on a SUV, unrestrained occupants were ejected from the vehicle," DPS Director Frank Milstead said.

Two adults -- a man and a woman -- were declared dead on the scene.

According to DPS officials, a Chevrolet Tahoe heading eastbound on Interstate 10 lost control when the left rear tire blew out. The driver lost control and slammed through the cable barrier before rolling over on the westbound lane.

Five of the nine people in the vehicle were ejected.

Three adults were transported to local hospitals in critical condition and a 7-year-old boy was in serious condition. An adult and two children under five years old were transported in stable condition, according to the Phoenix Fire Department.

According to Milstead several of the passengers including the kids were not wearing seat belts.

"It's real simple, if you buckle your seat belt you probably survive," Milstead said.

Another crash, this one on the southbound side of Interstate 17 occurred when the driver slammed into the back of a big rig pulled off on the side of the road. The driver of the van survived but both of his passengers were killed. Officials with DPS say neither were wearing a seat belt.

So far this year there have been 144 fatal crashes on our Valley freeways, up from 107 last year at the same time. Milstead believes drivers need to slow down, allow a greater distance between cars and use their seat belts.

"The carnage will continue to go on and on and not end," Milstead said. Urging drivers to practice patience and share the road.

Michelle Donati with AAA Arizona says seat belts have an efficiency rate between 40 and 60 percent in preventing injuries.

"It is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of injury or fatality," Donati said.

Both DPS and AAA Arizona are also urging drivers to have their tires checked and rotated on a regular basis, especially during our hot summer.

"Rubber with our desert climate doesn't necessarily mix," Donati said.

Donati says our roads can reach 150 degrees at times taking a serious toll on our tires.

Danelle Garza is unfortunately all too familiar with how devastating crashes can be. Her sister-in-law and three nephews and nieces were killed when a rear tire on the family's SUV blew out.

"There's so many questions. Why did this happen, could it have been prevented?" Garza said.

Her brother-in-law Pete and her youngest niece survived, both were wearing a seat belt.

"We feel a seat belt is s top priority when driving," Garza said. Only one of the kids was not wearing a seat belt when the SUV rolled three times. "We have Pete and Sami because of that."

The family is still looking for support to pay for funeral arrangements and medical expenses if you can help they have set up a GoFundMe page at gofundme.com/ybcxtc.


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