PHOENIX — Arizona is on pace to have the deadliest year on the roads in more than a decade. Wrong-way crashes, road rage incidents and speeding deaths are all on the rise from 2020, according to the Governor's Department of Highway Safety.
“It’s very scary and it’s one of those things where you go, what's going on?” Alberto Gutier the department's director said.
According to Gutier, the common factor is speed. He said more people are driving faster, making accidents more violent than before. It's a disturbing trend that began during the pandemic, as Arizona saw a rise in traffic deaths even with fewer cars on the road.
"It’s very scary in my book," Gutier said.
"It’s like you don’t think it’s going to happen to you. It’s always someone else," Albert Badalpour said.
Badalpour's son, Romsen was killed by a wrong-way driver in January.
“We get up in the morning and we are like lost every day.” Badalpour said. "it’s not right. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else."
Gutier said while laws are in place to stop much of this dangerous behavior, laws can only do so much. He said some of the responsibility falls on the drivers making dangerous decisions.
“What the solutions are people need to be aware of the dangers and what they are doing,” Gutier said.
Gutier said while officers are doing the best they can, staff shortages are making enforcement more difficult.
Badalpour wants more steps taken, from looking at new laws to stricter enforcement. He said he doesn't have all the answers, but solutions are needed to make sure more families do not suffer a similar fate.
“The leaders have to take the steps that leaders take so things like this doesn't happen to anybody else.”
Data from the Arizona Department of Transportation shows that roadway fatalities have been gradually rising in Arizona over the last decade:
- 2011: 825 deaths
- 2012: 821 deaths
- 2013: 844 deaths
- 2014: 774 deaths
- 2015: 895 deaths
- 2016: 952 deaths
- 2017: 1,000 deaths
- 2018: 1,010 deaths
- 2019: 982 deaths
- 2020: 1,057 deaths
12 News on YouTube
Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.