When Familiar Roads Throw A Curve

A mile-by-mile look at the most dangerous spots on our roads


The most troubling spot for highway accidents in the Payson area is the 10-mile southbound stretch of Highway 87 from Payson to Rye.

According to statistics, there were 66 accidents on this roadway from July 2005 to July 1, 2006.

To many, the stretch of Highway 87 from Payson to Pine is believed to be the most dangerous section of road in Rim Country.

However, statistics do not back up the belief. In the past year, there have been 44 accidents on this stretch of roadway, equating to 3.1 collisions per mile, the lowest in the area.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. John Whetten said there are many more dangerous areas in the county.

The worst one-mile stretch of highway, where there were 18 accidents recorded in the past year, is known as Corvair Curve on Highway 87.

This one-mile stretch, at milepost 247, is located well before the community of Rye when traveling southbound.

The speed limit in this area on the Beeline Highway is 55 mph instead of the usual 65 mph.

In the year 2005, inside Payson town limits, there were 413 accidents, 84 of which resulted in injuries. There were no fatalities in 2005.

Payson Police Commander Don Engler said the bulk of the accidents were the fault of drivers.

"Most of them are inattention where the drivers did something wrong," he said.

Fatalities are much more common on the highways that officers from the Department of Public Safety patrol.

From July 2005 to July 2006, DPS responded to 404 accidents in the Rim Country.


The Town of Star Valley, which encompasses a four-mile stretch of Highway 260, recorded the most collisions in the past year.

According to statistics, 269 of the accidents were on Highway 87 and another 135 were on Highway 260. Of those 407 accidents, there were 10 crashes that resulted in 12 deaths.

Seven were on Highway 87 with the other three happening on Highway 260. Four of the fatalities on Highway 87 involved motorcycles.

The Town of Star Valley, which encompasses a four-mile stretch of Highway 260, recorded the most collisions per mile at 7.5 during the one-year period. Whetten said the two locations in Star Valley where accidents are more likely to occur are where Circle K and Moonlight Drive enter Highway 260.

He pointed to the iron fence on Moonlight Drive that, he said, blocks the vision of cars heading eastbound on Highway 260. He said vehicles also have five lanes of traffic to negotiate when making a left turn at this location.

Another location where there are many accidents on the Beeline is the Gibson Ranch and Oxbow Estates Road with 12 accidents this past year. The State Route 188 turnoff resulted in nine more accidents.

On State Route 260, when taking Star Valley out of the equation, Kohl's Ranch was the most troubling spot with nine wrecks, with Preacher Canyon having the second most at six.

There were 125 accidents from Payson to Woods Canyon, which is a 30-mile stretch of roadway on Highway 260.

Tom Goodman from the Arizona Department of Transportation said vehicles hitting wildlife may have contributed to this number.

"ADOT is always working with the Game and Fish Department on Highway 260 to reduce the number of (collisions) with elk," he said

Goodman said the number of accidents for particular locations is a little misleading.

He said what needs to be looked at instead is the amount of traffic a certain roadway has in connection with the number of accidents.

"If you don't have a lot of accidents, (that means) you do not have that much traffic," Goodman said.

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