PHOENIX – With noticeable reductions in traffic volume during parts of 2020 due to the pandemic, the total number of crashes on all Arizona roadways fell sharply. Despite that, the number of traffic fatalities rose to their highest levels in 12 years, according to the most recent Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report published Thursday, July 29.
In Gila County, there were 914 crashes in 2020, with 23 persons killed and 463 injured. The number of fatal crashes is up slightly from 2019, when there were 18 fatal wrecks.
The most crashes in Gila County in 2020 occurred in Payson (241) with one person killed and 102 injured. 18 of the Payson crashes involved alcohol.
Statewide, the number of those killed in traffic collisions rose from 980 in 2019 to 1,057 in 2020, while the total number of traffic crashes came in under 100,000 for the first time since 1993. The report also shows that Arizonans traveled an estimated nearly 5 billion fewer miles in 2020 — a 7% decrease from 2019.
The Arizona Department of Transportation produces the annual Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report, which is a compilation of traffic crash reports provided by law enforcement agencies around the state. The report reflects crash data for all Arizona roadways, including city streets, county roads, reservation roads and state highways.
The 2020 report shows a decline across all categories in terms of number of crashes and injuries as one might expect from a year where travel was reduced and remote working and learning increased. However, the majority of the categories that track fatalities showed an increase, including deaths from speed-related crashes and lane-departure crashes and deaths from those not wearing seatbelts.
The rise in traffic fatalities last year illustrates that real change must begin in the driver’s seat as driver behavior is a major factor in traffic collisions.
Reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries can’t be solved by state agencies alone because more than two-thirds of crashes occur on roads other than state highways.
Two categories that saw fewer fatalities in 2020 than 2019 were alcohol-related and motorcycle-related crashes. Alcohol-related fatalities continued the trend over the last few years, declining to 181 deaths in 2020 compared to 258 in 2019 — a 30% decrease. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased by 21% from 2017 to 2019. Motorcycle-related fatalities saw a decrease from 170 deaths in 2019 to 160 in 2020.
The 2020 Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report is available at azdot.gov/CrashFacts.