REPORT: Number of deadly car crashes on Arizona roads continues to rise

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jan 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-13 21:11:01-05

It is happening far too often on Arizona roads and state leaders are fed up.

"What drives me crazy is, we try the best we can for awareness and to educate drivers, and still, we are seeing it being ignored on the freeways, highways and city streets," said Alberto Gutier, the Director of Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety.

Deadly crashes are on pace for a nine year high across the state, according to data released to ABC15.

Gutier watches the numbers constantly.

He revealed in 65 years of fatality data, 2006 saw the all-time high, claiming 1,301 lives.

Just four years later, the number of deaths dropped to a nearly 30-year low. But just like the economy during this time frame, the deaths are picking back up again.

"It scares me to death that my grandchildren are being exposed to people that are driving irresponsibly," Gutier said.

Gutier explained with improved economic conditions and lower gas prices, more people are traveling and out on the roads.

That exposes more people to potential dangers.

The director said the contributing factors for those deaths are clear cut.

Speeding, aggressive and distract driving tops the list of deadly factors. Impaired driving is the second reason, followed by the lack of seatbelt use.

While driverless cars are still years away, there are some solutions that would help right now.

"More traffic stops, more tickets, but how do you do it when a lot of the departments are way down and officers?"

Experts say this is everyone's problem, especially when it comes to insurance rates.

"When you are dealing with a death, there is actually a price value associated with that. So insurance company's have to settle a claim, there is a value to that, there's also grieving to that, it's called pain and suffering," said John Candaso, an AAA insurance agent.

Experts say there's no safe haven in the Valley for rising insurance rates. The prices go up as the crashes pile up. The big take away is this: slow down, pay attention and buckle up.

Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows fatal crashes have increased 8 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year.