Beware of dangers on curved section of I-17; over 400 crashes in 2 years

Posted at 7:18 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-23 17:55:05-05

State troopers are warning drivers to slow down on a curvy, mountainous stretch of Interstate 17 that is known for crashes and closures in Yavapai County. 

C&S Towing trucks respond to every major crash on this part of the highway.

"We don't like to go out there and scrape up bodies and cars," C&S Towing manager Gary Mathis said. "Any fatality is the worst."

ABC15 analyzed ADOT crash data for a 20-mile stretch between Rock Springs and Cordes Junction. There were 469 crashes and 11 deaths during 2014 and 2015.


According to ABC15's analysis, the two most common causes for the crashes were animal-related and rollovers.

Mathis says most calls are on weekends and holidays when people from the the Valley are going to the high country.

"It's very jam-packed," Mathis said. 

Big wrecks cause big backups, like one last month, which involved more than 20 cars and a cattle truck

A DPS spokesman said that area of I-17 is dangerous because sections have just two lanes with a rock wall on one side and a cliff on the other. That gives drivers, already on a steep grade, less room to maneuver in an emergency. 

"We look at these types of major collisions and look at other things we could've done to clear it faster or maybe to prevent or educate the public about those danger areas," DPS Captain Damon Cecil said.

During holiday travel times, ADOT stages special heavy equipment near Black Canyon City, so worker can clear big crashes off of the road as quickly as possible. DPS said drivers can help prevent crashes by slowing down, especially in difficult terrain or when in unfamiliar areas.