Interesting Arizona Traffic Stories for February, 2019



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

Amelia Cramer: Criminal justice reform that is good news for Arizona drivers (Tucson.com)

Historically, following a traffic ticket, if you failed to appear in court, or failed to pay court-ordered fines and fees, your driver’s license would be suspended. This applied to both criminal cases and civil traffic cases.

If you were then cited and prosecuted for driving while your license was suspended, you would have a misdemeanor conviction, you would owe additional fines and fees and your license suspension would be extended.

Many Arizonans found themselves in a never-ending cycle of driver’s license suspensions and mounting court debts.

Thanks to criminal justice reform efforts initiated by the Pima County Attorney’s Office, supported by Pima County’s Justice Coordinating Council and by the Pima County Board of Supervisors, with additional support from the Arizona Administrative Office of the Courts, state law in this area has been changed. [Read more…]

Digital license plates now available to Arizona drivers (ABC15)

Arizona drivers can now use digital license plates rather than traditional physical plates.

After more than a year of testing on Arizona Department of Transportation fleet vehicles, LTE network-connected digital plates that display messages such as "stolen" or "invalid" to alert drivers and authorities of illegal driving will be available for others on the road.

ADOT spokesperson Doug Nick has previously described it basically as an iPad that goes in place of a traditional plate on the back of the vehicle.

Dubbed Rplate Digital License plates, the devices are available via auto service providers or plate manufacturer Reviver Auto.

The Arizona MVD does not receive proceeds from sales of the plates, which are available for preorder starting at $499. [Read more…]

Not Just Texting And Driving: Arizona Lacks Vital Road-Safety Laws, Report Finds (Phoenix New Times)

In Arizona, cops can’t legally stop a driver for not wearing a seat belt, adults can text and drive in most places, and motorcyclists aren’t required to wear helmets.

These and other lax road-safety laws make Arizona one of the most dangerous states in the country for drivers and passengers, according to a new report by the group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, which is funded by insurance companies as well as consumer and public health groups. Over the past year, Arizona has made scant progress in addressing this dearth of laws to protect drivers and passengers.

In 2017, 1,000 people in Arizona died in motor-vehicle crashes, according to the report — up from 962 deaths the year before. Tally up the last 10 years, and the death toll rises to 8,631 people. Meanwhile, crashes cost the state $4.183 billion each year in lost productivity, medical costs, property damage, and other consequences, the group calculates.

Those, of course, are merely the tangible costs of the loss of human lives.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, whose members lobby for state and federal laws that they believe will save lives and reduce costs related to crashes, issues this report annually in January, when many state legislative sessions, including Arizona’s, begin. [Read more…]

Arizona may be closer than ever to banning cellphone use while driving, after officer's death (AZ Central)

"Enough is enough."

Standing outside the state Capitol on Thursday, Peter Johnson said it's time for state lawmakers to ban the use of cellphones while driving.

The issue is personal to him. His daughter is Deanna Townsend, who lost her husband, Salt River tribal police Officer Clayton Townsend, earlier this month at the hands of a driver who was looking at his phone.

"It's a social standard that everyone thinks is OK, and it's not," he said at a news conference. "We have to get the phones out of our hands. We have to stop it. This is the time."

The family was there to support a bill introduced Wednesday by Republican state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix, that would enact a statewide ban on hand-held cellphone use while driving.

The new push comes after the Arizona Legislature has considered, but failed to enact, bans on texting while driving every year for more than a decade.

Currently, texting and driving is only banned for new, teen drivers. At this point, Arizona is one of just three states without a texting ban for all drivers. [Read more…]

Arizona ends court appeal, will issue driver's licenses to all deferred-action recipients (Tucson.com)

After fighting the issue in court for years, Gov. Doug Ducey has agreed to issue driver’s licenses to all deferred-action recipients.

In an announcement Wednesday, the state Department of Transportation said anyone who has an Employment Authorization Card issued by the Department of Homeland Security is entitled to a state license to operate a motor vehicle.

The change is immediate.

The action came as Ducey gave up trying to appeal a 2018 ruling by U.S. District Judge David Campbell that the state was required to issue licenses to everyone the federal government has allowed to remain in this country.

It also came years after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s ill-fated bid to keep “dreamers” — those brought to the United States illegally as children — from being licensed.

But Ducey insisted the state was not obligated to issue licenses to those the federal government placed in other deferred-action programs, like the victims of domestic violence. [Read more…]

These cities have the worst drivers in Arizona (AZ Central)

Arizona is often mentioned among the places with the worst drivers in the country. But have you ever wondered exactly where in Arizona you'll find the worst drivers?

The Mesa law firm of Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience did the math to answer that question. It crunched the numbers to find out where you’ll find the worst drivers in the Grand Canyon state.

Using Arizona Department of Transportation statistics and population estimates, the firm calculated which cities have the highest number of crashes per capita to determine the places with the worst drivers.

The study ranked Tolleson as the worst place for drivers while Bisbee came in as the safest place for drivers. Bisbee only had one accident last year.

Tempe came in as the second worst spot for drivers, with some speculation as to whether that might be due to the number of students in the area. However, Tucson ranked 22 on the list. Does that mean UofA students are better drivers than ASU students? We're not opening that can of worms. Perhaps it is yet another rivalry for the two schools to battle out. [Read more…]

Our View: Arizona needs safe drivers, not driver safety laws (Havasu News)

A new national report says Arizona is falling behind in creating new driving safety laws and that new laws could have saved about a tenth of those who died on state roads in 2017.

Our question is: What about the other 900 or so who died? What could have saved them? [Read more…]

People Are Attacking Driverless Waymo Vehicles in Tempe, Too (Phoenix New Times)

Two days after an Uber driverless car hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, someone used their own vehicle to try to run a Waymo vehicle off the road.

It was about 7:20 p.m. on March 20, near Priest Road and Southern Avenue in Tempe. The Waymo driver, identified in a police report only as "Anthony," said a dark-gray, later-model Toyota Camry was tailgating him and driving "all over the lanes." As Anthony drove north on Priest and turned left onto Southern, the other car tried to force him off the road, he told Tempe police.

As the Arizona Republic and New York Times reported last month, Chandler police documented more than a dozen instances of people attacking or threatening Waymo vehicles in 2017 and 2018. Whether angry, upset, or just bored, people have followed the autonomous vehicles, thrown rocks at them, slashed their tires, swerved toward them, and in one case even pulled a gun on a backup driver, as the Republic's Ryan Randazzo reported on December 11. In the latter incident, Roy Leonard Haselton of Chandler was sentenced in early January to a year of supervised probation.

As Phoenix New Times has learned, attacks and threats against Waymo vehicles also occurred in Tempe last year. [Read more…]

STUDY: Nevada drivers rank among the best in U.S. (News 3 LV)

The results of a study ranking drivers by state in 2018 are surprising in light of the number of traffic-related fatalities that have plagued the valley’s roads in recent weeks.

Since the start of 2019, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reports nine traffic fatalities, yet according to QuoteWizard, a website that helps consumers with their insurance, Nevada drivers rank sixth best in the country.

According to the study’s webpage, QuoteWizard used incident data from the website’s users as well as fatality data from the Federal Highway Administration.

The data specifically came from incidents categorized under accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, citations and fatalities.

The states ranking higher than Nevada are Illinois, Arizona, Oklahoma, Mississippi with Michigan coming in at number one. [Read more…]

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