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Interesting Arizona Traffic Stories for May, 2019



Check out some of the interesting news stories and developments affecting Arizona drivers from the past month.

For a new Arizona highway: Environmental concerns or economic benefits? (AZ Central)

A proposed highway that would start at the border with Mexico and serve as the southern leg of Arizona's Interstate 11 is being called both an economic benefit and an environmental threat.

Federal, state, and local agencies have reservations about the environmental impact for mostly undisturbed sections of the Sonoran Desert, The Arizona Daily Star reported Friday.

The 280-mile (about 451 kilometers) highway now in preliminary planning stages would extend from Nogales on the U.S.-Mexico border to Wickenburg, northwest of metro Phoenix.

Other Arizona sections of I-11 are in planning stages and would connect with a small section already built in southern Nevada. As envisioned, the completed I-11 would extend from Nogales to Reno, Nevada, and incorporate portions of several existing highways.

A draft environmental impact study by the Arizona Department of Transportation includes comments compiled by the agency over the past few years.

Economic reasons Tucson-area leaders back a new route include increasing trade with Mexico and reducing congestion on Interstates 10 and 19.

Critics have said the new interstate is unnecessary and are pushing for a no-build option. [Read more…]

Put down the phone: Arizona bans cellphone use while driving (Cronkite News Arizona PBS)

Arizona this week became the 48th state to ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel.

The law states that in a moving car, the driver is not allowed to operate a cellphone, including to write, send or read any text-based communication. Drivers also aren’t allowed to hold or support a mobile device with any part of their body.

The law should save lives, according to statistics on the governor’s website, which shows that states that have hands-free laws experienced 16% fewer fatalities in traffic incidents. The website also states that drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in a collision.

Gov. Doug Ducey was joined by the families and victims of distracted drivers Monday as he signed House Bill 2318 at the Capitol.

“If we are honest, many of us have found ourselves distracted by a cellphone at one time or another. In the fortunate cases, it ends in a close call, a courtesy honk or maybe a fender bender,” Ducey said. “But we know that that’s not always the result. And for far too many families, this situation leads to a much more tragic ending.”

So why did it take so long for Arizona lawmakers to pass a bill that would eliminate such risks? [Read more…]

ADOT’s Safety Message Contest returns (White Mountain Independent)

It’s back. For the third time, the Arizona Department of Transportation is holding its Safety Message Contest, giving you the chance to see your punny, witty, snarky or serious safety slogans on overhead signs, encouraging drivers to make better decisions behind the wheel.

Messages can be submitted at azdot.gov/signcontest through Monday, April 29. In the past two contests, ADOT received a combined 9,000 entries.

ADOT displays quirky traffic safety messages, which often are related to current events and pop culture, as part of an effort to encourage drivers to change their actions behind the wheel. More than 90 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by driver decisions, such as speeding, driving aggressively, distracted or impaired. According to preliminary data, more than 1,000 people were killed in traffic collisions last year in Arizona.

When creating your messages – there’s no limit to the number you can submit – remember these guidelines… [Read more…]

Phoenix City Council essentially kills Vision Zero safety plan in voting deadlock (Fox 10)

The Phoenix City Council is looking for ways to lower pedestrian fatalities.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted on a plan called the "Vision Zero" traffic safety program. It would reduce speed limits across the city, but some council members are saying "not so fast."

The numbers are staggering, as pedestrian deaths in Phoenix have doubled over the last decade, putting the city third on a list no city wants to be in: the deadliest places for pedestrians.

Vision Zero is a nationwide effort that aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths through measures like reduced speed, lane adjustments, and different traffic signal strategies. [Read more…]

City of Phoenix plans to renew photo enforcement cameras (AZ Family)

The City of Phoenix is looking to keep its photo enforcement cameras for years to come. By comparison, both Glendale and Tempe got rid of their traffic cameras years ago.

The cameras are the eyes and ears of traffic enforcement when police are not around. In Phoenix, everyone seems to have an opinion about photo enforcement cameras.

"[The cameras] are almost being used to punish people who drive through an intersection,” said driver Tyler Peterson.

"They prevent pedestrians from getting hit. It prevents people from wanting to speed through the light," said pedestrian Tony Martinez.

New numbers from the City of Phoenix show that the cameras do make our streets safer. [Read more…]

On Phoenix's most dangerous streets, little has been done to address the pedestrian death toll (AZ Central)

Jessica Mendoza has heard many stories of pedestrians getting hit and killed in her north-central Phoenix neighborhood.

As she talks about what makes her feel unsafe, one thing keeps coming up: speed.

"Even when we're coming out of church, cars don't slow down," Mendoza said. "It's scary to even stand outside in front of church."

She lives near the deadliest area for pedestrians in Arizona: a dimly lit section of 27th Avenue, just north of Bethany Home Road. On this half-mile stretch of pavement six people were killed from 2010 to 2017. Four others were seriously injured, according to state Department of Transportation data.

For Mendoza, the road's dangers are more than state statistics or neighborhood lore. They're personal.

Two years ago her father, Jesus Mendoza, was struck and killed by a pickup truck on 27th Avenue. [Read more…]

Can’t fake it: Arizona DPS nabs driver in HOV lane with mannequin (KTAR News)

Admit it, the thought has crossed your mind while you’ve been stuck in traffic.

But the Arizona Department of Public Safety is reminding motorists it’s a bad idea to fake their way into the high-occupancy vehicle lane.

On Tuesday, the agency posted photos of a man caught driving in the HOV lane with a mannequin in the passenger seat.

Troopers weren’t fooled by the dummy’s stylish red cap, sunglasses and turquoise sweatshirt in the car on Loop 202 at Alma School Road in Mesa.

Doug Keenan, the trooper who pulled the man over, said he noticed something was up when the person in the passenger seat would not move.

“When I contacted the driver, he almost acted as if I wouldn’t notice it,” he said.

Drivers caught violating HOV rules are subject to $400 fines. [Read more…]

Arizona road rage: What's being done to keep drivers safe? (ABC 15)

Too many drivers who are impatient, angry, or in a hurry to get to wherever they're going, have been a plague on Valley roadways. Especially when you look at state statistics that show reckless, aggressive drivers who are going way too fast are the leading cause of fatalities in Arizona.

In the last few weeks, we have seen some of these angry, impatient drivers getting out of control and allegedly even assaulting and killing those who got in their way.

A recent road rage incident resulted in 10-year-old Summerbell Brown's death after she was shot during an incident.

The death has touched a nerve, not just in the community, but also with law enforcement officials who are in charge of making and enforcing the rules of the road.

"We have stupid dumb, idiot, drivers out there. Have you heard of them? They're called 'SIDD' in my book. Stupid, idiot dumb drivers," said Alberto Gutier, a spokesperson for the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. [Read more…]

Wrong-way driving a serious problem in Arizona (Parker Pioneer)

The accident March 27 on Interstate 10 that killed four people was allegedly caused by a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 10. Arizona has seen a large number of wrong-way driving incidents in recent years, most of them in Maricopa County.

The problem of wrong-way drivers has reached the highest levels of Arizona government. Gov. Doug Ducey has spoken out on the subject, calling for action. On March 27, Gov. Ducey signed HB 2243, which makes wrong-way driving on the highways while impaired a felony.

Ducey said there have been too many accidents involving wrong-way drivers, and it mostly comes back to cases of impairment by drugs or alcohol.

“You’d think it was obvious by now, but to anyone out there who hasn’t gotten the memo: booze, drugs and driving don’t mix,” Ducey said. “Your actions are beyond foolish- they are lethal, and we will not tolerate it.”

The March 27 was the third fatal wrong-way crash on I-10 in La Paz County since the start of 2018.

The accident came barely one year after another wrong-way accident on I-10 in La Paz County left three people dead. [Read more…]

These Arizona districts might be illegally asking parents for state IDs (AZ Central)

At least six Arizona school districts might be violating state and federal law by asking a parent to flash a state-issued ID before their kids can be enrolled.

ACLU Arizona attorneys recently chided Yuma Union High School District for the practice. The organization said the district's practice of asking for an Arizona ID is "unconstitutional" and intended to drive out students who aren't documented.

In Arizona, only U.S. citizens and those authorized to live in the U.S. are allowed to get a driver's license. But federal law requires that no student is denied a "free public education," regardless of their legal status in the country.

Yuma Superintendent Gina Thompson wrote in an emailed statement that the district was working to make sure its enrollment policies are in step with state law.

Yuma may not be the only district requiring state-issued IDs from parents. [Read more…]

Keeping new drivers safe on Arizona roads (KGUN 9)

You tell them to clean up their room, do their homework, and before you know it, it's time to start thinking about driving.

"I just kind of get nervous...the way some people can drive," says mother of soon-to-be teen driver, Cassandra Davidson.

Chances are, if you're a parent, you share some of that same emotion.

"Especially with road rage lately," says Davidson. "And sometimes she doesn't understand something and somebody gets upset and cuts her off. Or just drunk drivers especially."

Unfortunately, the reality of teen driver fatalities in our state is a real thing. Case in point, a deadly crash in Pinal County just a few months ago. In fact, WalletHub released a study in June of 2018 that ranked Arizona the tenth worst state for teen drivers. But it's not just parents who are concerned. [Read more…]

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