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Arizona ranks low for highway safety, study shows

Posted: 11:01 AM, Jan 27, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-28 15:51:42-05
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The ranking system is in line with a traffic signal: green means good, yellow means there is still more work to be done and red means there needs to be major improvements when it comes to saving lives on our roadways.

This week, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety put Arizona in the red.

"Our safety report card, if you will, rates every state on each of these areas and also gives an overall rating based on the total number of laws passed," explained AHAS President Cathy Chase in a press conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The rankings come from what safety laws are or are not in place.

Arizona was one of the 12 worst states for not having some of the 16 laws this organization has deemed crucial for community safety on the roads.

"Well, I'm not surprised really," said Commander Chris Olson with the Oro Valley Police Department.

ABC15 spoke one-on-one by phone with Commander Olson immediately following the results of the new report.

He was one of the few speakers invited to the event in our nation's capitol.

"I think what separates Arizona from being a red state to a yellow state is the fact that we don't have a primary seat belt law and we don't have an all-rider helmet law," said Commander Olson.

Other laws Arizona does not have include booster seat laws and stronger restrictions for new drivers.

"I think a lot of people think that crashes are just a byproduct of our transportation in this country... you know, that they happen," Commander Olson said. "And the truth is, they're preventable. They're 100% preventable. They don't have to happen."

Commander Olson said, while Arizona is in the red, he does believe we are on the right track with a distracted-driving ban.

"We talk about texting bans, but I think what's more important is removing the cell phone from the hand completely," Commander Olson explained.

So, how do we take action?

Olson suggested contacting the local legislators in your district and asking them to introduce these types of bills into the legislative session.

But, also -- we know seat belts, helmets, and not using a cell phone while driving saves lives. Do we really need a law to tell us to do or not do these things?

"I've experienced far too many tragedies on our roads and our highways that could have been and should have been prevented," Commander Olson said.

Do you have a roads issue or question for Operation Safe Roads? You can call 833-AZROADS or email roads@abc15.com.