PHOENIX — Fewer drivers, fewer crashes but more deaths? That was the reality in 2020, according to data from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.
The trend is by no means unique to Arizona. A report by the National Safety Council found motor deaths up nationwide by around 8%.
“It makes no sense,” Alberto Gutier, Director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said. "I hate to use the word but they are driving stupid.”
Data provided by Gutier shows that 2020 was the deadliest on Arizona roadways in at least 15 years.
Overall, the total number of crashes dropped more than 27% from 2019, while the number of deaths jumped more than 9%.
Gutier said that there are a combination of factors leading to the increase. He pointed to short-staffed law enforcement. However, his main focus was on the drivers who were on the streets.
“People thinking because there is less traffic, it will be safer to speed. But at the same time when they speed the control is less,” Gutier said.
Pedestrian, bike and vehicle crash deaths all increased in 2020.
“You risk yourself, your family and your future," Gutier said.
Already in 2021, 163 Arizonans have died on our roadways. Gutier wants people to drive responsibly, even when it may feel like the roads are wide open.
“We need to back to the idea that you gotta be safe, protect yourself and protect others. Just follow the rules of the game, it’s so easy," Gutier said.