In Arizona, we’ve been able to decrease the rate of deaths from car, truck and motorcycle crashes by 43% in the last 4 years, from about 19 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 11 per 100,000 Arizonans in 2009.  While this is good progress, we still have a long way to go.  Crashes are still the leading cause of death for people between 3 and 34, and 710 Arizonans died from vehicle crashes in 2009.  This is a dramatic decrease from 2005 when 1,128 Arizonans died in crashes.  Rates are highest among males, American Indians, people aged 20 through 24 years, and residents of our rural counties.

How have we made this progress?   Between 2005 and 2009 Arizona improved roadways, implemented a graduated drivers license for people under 18, and strengthened our DUI laws and enforcement.  More cities are decreasing red light running by various methods including red-light cameras.  Also, our fleet of cars gets safer each year as older vehicles break down and get discarded.  Still, there’s a lot of work to be done:  seatbelt and child safety seat usage use is only at 80% and speeding and distracted driving remain a problem.

The national trends are going in the right direction as well.  National highway deaths fell to 33,808 in 2009 which is the lowest number since 1950 (the number of deaths per mile driven is 7 times lower than it was in 1950).  Nationally, alcohol impaired driving fatalities declined by 7.4% in 2009 compared to 2008.  You can read more about this Winnable Battle on the CDC’s website.  You can also visit our injury prevention website and look at the response end of traumatic injury on our trauma site where you’ll find Arizona specific reports.