Interesting Arizona Traffic Stories for April, 2019

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

Jobs, recreation, rent, traffic: How population growth changes Arizona (KTAR News)

Arizona’s growth continues to surge, with a 2019 census report estimating it was the fourth fastest growing state last year. The report, which estimates Maricopa County had reached more than 4 million people by 2016, said population growth in five Western states has surpassed other regions for seven decades.

The growth of the Southwest brings jobs and expanded recreation opportunities, but it also clogs roads and is leading to some of the fastest growing rents among major cities.

Eric Anderson, executive director of the Maricopa Association of Governments, said the municipal planning agency is trying to combat decades of urban sprawl through projects that preserve land and focusing on building infrastructures within existing communities.

The growth of metro Phoenix will decelerate at some point, he predicted. Based on census data, from 1950 to 2000, population growth in the desert Southwest averaged more than 40 percent every decade through 2000 but more recently slowed to about 20 percent. [Read more…]

Cycling in Arizona: What are the rules of the road? (KGUN 9)

When driving down the roadways, people may notice cyclists in bike lanes, on sidewalks and even riding in front of us on the road.

Deputy James Allerton with the Pima County Sheriff's Department said even though they're everywhere, that doesn't mean they're allowed to be.

"Cyclists have a lot of the same laws that they need to follow as motorist, obviously bicyclists are a little different, but you still need to follow the motor vehicle laws as a bicyclist," Allerton said.

Those laws include:

  • Ride on the right
  • Obey traffic control devices (like signs and signals)
  • If you're under 18, wear a helmet
  • Signal before moving and stopping
  • Don't ride on the sidewalk
  • Wear bright color clothing or have flashing lights to make sure you're seen
  • Look behind you -- be aware of your surroundings
  • Only two riders abreast in the roadway
  • Stay 3 feet from motorists
  • Follow the lane markings (meaning stay within the white line if there is one.)
  • If there is no white line, the law states cyclists are allowed on the road, as long as they're still following the traffic rules.
  • "A lot of these things are just for the bicyclist's safety, and to avoid collisions," Allerton said. [Read more…]

    Takata air bags claim another life after Arizona crash (AZ Central)

    An Arizona man killed by an exploding Takata air-bag inflator brings the worldwide death toll to at least 24.

    Armando V. Ortega, 55, of Yuma, died June 11, 2018, three days after his 2002 Honda Civic was involved in a crash near Phoenix, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

    Honda said in a statement that the Civic driver was hit by shrapnel and injured. He later died at a hospital.

    The death, which wasn't reported to a federal agency until this month, is the 16th in the U.S. caused by the air bags, which can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel into drivers and passengers. Seven people were killed in Malaysia and one in Australia.

    More than 200 people also have been hurt by the inflators, which have caused the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history, involving as many as 70 million inflators to be recalled by the end of next year. About 100 million inflators are to be recalled worldwide. [Read more…]

    Arizona House Committee to consider statewide texting and driving ban (FOX10 Phoenix)

    Arizona lawmakers continue to push for a statewide texting and driving ban and the issue will once again be discussed at the state capitol.

    The recent jolt of energy for this issue came almost three months ago after Salt River Police Officer Clayton Townsend was struck and killed by a driver who told authorities he crossed four lanes of traffic because he was texting and not paying attention.

    The driver, identified as 40-year-old Jerry Sanstead, has not formally been charged in the case to date.

    Arizona is one of only three states in the country without extensive texting while driving laws. Only a few cities in the state have passed ordinances against texting and driving.

    Arizona Senate Bill 1141 would make it illegal to use a device behind-the-wheel, unless it is in hands-free mode. [Read more…]

    Can you refuse to take a breath test in Arizona? (AZ Central)

    If you get behind the wheel in Arizona, you are automatically giving law enforcement consent to test you for driving under the influence, according to two new rulings from the state's high court.

    The Arizona Supreme Court issued opinions on two DUI cases questioning whether drivers gave their consent for officers to perform breath tests.

    According to state law, when someone drives in Arizona, he or she is giving consent to take blood, breath, urine or any other test of bodily substance to determine alcohol or drug content.

    Court's reminder on implied consent

    Alexis Diaz was arrested on April 2, 2016, and later charged with DUI, according to court documents. She was read her rights and agreed to take a breath test, according to documents.

    In court, she argued she had no choice but to agree or lose her license so consent was not really voluntary and therefore her rights were violated.

    The judges disagreed, ruling that because of the state's law on implied consent, an officer can get a blood or breath sample from a driver because of the driver's actions that led to the traffic stop. [Read more…]

    Why Pedestrian Deaths Are At A 30-Year High (KNAU)

    Across the U.S., 6,227 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2018, the highest number in nearly 30 years. The findings from a Governors Highway Safety Association report show that many of these deaths occurred in big cities like Houston and Miami.

    The signs are all over most cities — stretches of road without crosswalks and people needing to walk on roads built for rush-hour traffic. But the real increase, experts say, comes from larger trends: drivers and pedestrians distracted by their phones and a growth of larger vehicles on the road.

    Macon, Ga., isn't immune to any of these problems. Home to 110,000 residents, one in every 8,000 died in a pedestrian accident last year. Violet Poe lost her friend Amos Harris, 62, in 2014.

    "Amos was a good person. He was really kindhearted," she said. Walking between traffic cones and the curb of a five-lane highway, she pointed to the street he would have walked down that night. Harris had been out after dark, searching for his nephew, when he crossed Riverview Road at a blinking light. "He came down and crossed here and was hit," she explained. His body was thrown 100 feet.

    Georgia is one of five states that made up nearly half of all the nation's pedestrian fatalities in 2018. The others were Texas, Arizona, Florida and California. In California, 432 pedestrians were killed in just the first half of 2018. Several of these states also had a significant increase in population, which the report finds is a contributing factor in the fatalities. [Read more…]

    Lyft introduces new economic services to assist Arizona drivers (KTAR News)

    Ride-sharing service Lyft on Tuesday announced a new initiative called Lyft Driver Services that aims to give its Arizona and national drivers economic flexibility.

    The three-part program was put in place to “help drivers succeed on their own,” according to a press release.

    “We believe it’s our responsibility to make Lyft work for anyone striving to provide for themselves and their families in this economy: veterans, immigrants, parents, seniors, millennials, artists, entrepreneurs,” Lyft Chief Operating Officer Jon McNeill said in a press release.

    “The drivers on our platform are active members of their communities, and the majority drive in their free time to supplement their income.”

    Among the services that will be offered to drivers include Lyft Direct, a vehicle service center and an expansion to the Express Drive program in Arizona. [Read more…]

    Q&AZ: 6 Common Questions About Arizona Driver's Licenses (KJZZ 91.5)

    Why Do Arizona Driver’s Licenses Last So Long?

    Arizona law states that a driver's license doesn’t need to be renewed until the driver turns 65 years old.

    The were set by Arizona lawmakers decades ago, and in 1999 state legislators actually voted to extend the renewal age from 60 to 65.

    “That was a choice to presumably make it more convenient for people to not have to go into a MVD (Motor Vehicle Department) office every several years to renew a driver license,” said Doug Nick, spokesman for Arizona MVD.

    While newly licensed 16-year-olds may think they’ll have the same physical licence until 2068, that’s a misconception. Arizona residents are required by law to update their license photo every 12 years.

    Although it’s not a legal requirement, many choose to update their license when they turn 18-years-old and again after their 21st birthday.

    Retirees who move to Arizona will see an expiration date more in line with the rest of the country.

    “Once you turn 65, you do need to come in every five years to renew,” Nick said. [Read more…]

    Arizona ID won't get you very far after October 2020 (KGUN 9)

    Your Arizona driver's license or ID won't get you very far after October 2020. There are about 400 business days until the Travel ID deadline. Your standard license won't be accepted at the airport after that date.

    “I mean that makes no sense,” said Chris Arlig waiting at the MVD.

    Some people are feeling surprised and frustrated after hearing the news.

    “I have a regular ID and I wasn't planning on getting another one until it expired,” said Jesse Jagodowski waiting at the MVD. “10 years from now, maybe 15 years from now.”

    The federal Real ID Act of 2005 boosted requirements for airport checkpoints and federal buildings.

    The MVD deals with 7300 people a day in Arizona and many of them may want to upgrade to the Travel ID before the deadline.

    “The math doesn't add up very well when we look at how many people may want to get a Travel ID,” said MVD Spokesman Doug Nick. “What we really want to avoid is getting a crush of people at the last minute as we approach October of 2020.” [Read more…]

    80 have died on Arizona highways this year, many due to preventable causes (KTAR News)

    The number of deaths recorded on Arizona highways this year has reached 80, but many of them were preventable, authorities said.

    “It’s tragic,” Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Kameron Lee told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

    “This time last year, we were at 65, which again is tragic, but we’ve increased from this year to last year,” Lee said.

    The department does not know for certain why deaths on the highways have increased, but Lee said one reason could be more drivers on the road, especially those traveling north to see winter weather.

    Col. Frank Milstead tweeted last week that 30 percent of occupants killed were not wearing seat belts, and a quarter of the drivers involved in fatal accidents were impaired. [Read more…]

    The Stark Traffic Safety Divide (CityLab)

    In some ways, the crash that killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, last year, was a typical distracted-driving incident, with a cruel high-tech twist: As Herzberg walked her bike across the road in the dark of night, the driver of the Volvo SUV hurtling toward her was streaming an episode of The Voice on her cell phone.

    But the driver wasn’t the only operator that was distracted: The car was part of Uber’s fleet of self-driving test vehicles, racking up miles in computer control mode. Its many sensors should have recognized the pedestrian obstacle in its path and avoided the collision. Instead, the SUV’s operating system kept right on driving; and the human driver failed to intervene. Herzberg was fatally injured, and died in the hospital.

    This week, at least one chapter of the long legal battle that ensued against Uber—which made the self-driving technology that powered the car—closed, when an Arizona prosecutor ruled that the company was not criminally liable for Herzberg’s death. The driver may still face manslaughter charges. [Read more…]

    Arizona Law Cuts Phoenix Police Towing Revenue (KJZZ 91.5)

    A new state law has the Phoenix Police Department freezing some open positions.

    In fiscal year 2017-18, Phoenix police towed about 35,000 vehicles. Of those, about 5,000 were impounded because the drivers had suspended licenses.

    But a state law that took effect earlier this year says police can no longer impound a vehicle over a suspended license. Assistant Police Chief Mike Kurtenbach recently described the impact to the council’s public safety subcommittee.

    ”The towing fees are what support the program for our vehicle impound detail,” he said. “The 5,000 fewer tows immediate impact, because of the administrative fee, is $750,000.”

    He said the department will keep five vacant positions open which is expected to cover about $350,000 annually, leaving a projected shortfall of at least $400,000 which helps support the remaining 14 positions.

    Kurtenbach said the loss could be as high as $1 million when the loss of revenue from impounded vehicles that have been abandoned and sold is factored in.

    The Phoenix Police Vehicle Impound Detail is supported by a $150 administrative fee for each vehicle towed and a profit share with towing companies that is equal to 34 percent of revenues from the auction sales of abandoned vehicles. [Read more…]

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