- Associated Press - Thursday, July 6, 2017

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - The Arizona Department of Transportation’s annual “Motor Vehicle Crash Facts” report says 962 people were killed in crashes on Arizona roads in 2016. That’s 65 more than in 2015, or a 7.3 percent increase. It is the second straight year that fatalities have increased statewide.

Speeding, impaired driving, and failing to use seat belts were major factors in fatal crashes, according to the report, which was published last month.

“Too many people make the deadly decision to drive impaired, whether by alcohol, prescription pills or other drugs, and put all of us at risk,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “None of us should accept this selfish behavior and it’s everyone’s business to stop impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

The statewide figures do not reflect local trends, The Daily Courier reports (https://bit.ly/2tuqb6c ).

The Arizona Department of Transportation reported 40 deaths and 1,592 injured in Yavapai County in 2016. Those figures are down from 49 deaths and 1,472 injured in 2015, and 43 deaths in 2014.

While there were 170 alcohol-related crashes in the county in 2016, there were six fatalities, down from 11 in 2015 and 10 in 2014.

The highest annual number of motor vehicle crash fatalities in Arizona - 1,301 - occurred in 2006. While collisions and fatalities have risen in recent years, 2016 totals are below where they were a decade ago, despite having nearly one million more licensed drivers and registered vehicles traveling today on Arizona’s roadways than in 2007.

“Impaired drivers continue to take the lives of our loved ones and it is time for the community to spread the message that impaired driving is unacceptable,” said Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. “I call on every driver to call 911 if impaired driving is suspected. Friends and family members must make every effort to take the keys away from impaired individuals or to call 911 for help when intervening.”

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, noted the decline in the number of fatalities involving people who weren’t using seat belts, which fell from 258 statewide in 2015 to 250 last year.

“While we’re encouraged to see a decrease, one death is still too many,” Christ said. “Make sure everyone is buckled up every time, regardless of how far, fast or familiar your drive may be.”

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