Report Shows Arizona Poor Traffic Safety Laws

Report Shows Arizona Poor Traffic Safety LawsArizona received poor marks in a recent report card from a national highway safety group, which said that the state has only adopted a minimal number of the 15 laws the group believes are imperative to traffic safety.

According to the Tucson Sentinel, South Dakota was the only state that ranked lower than Arizona in the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety's ninth annual report. Arizona was rated poorly due to its failure to enact stringent laws that govern teen driving, seat belt use, motorcycle helmet use, distracted driving and many others.

Jacqueline Gillan, the group’s president, said Arizona has "some of the weakest laws and yet they’re surrounded by states that have better laws," and that "this is really a call to action for Arizona to step up and start passing these laws."

The group found that car crashes were the result of 700 fatalities in Arizona in 2010, costing the state an estimated $2.7 billion.

"It doesn’t make sense when you look at the economic cost and carnage on the Arizona highways that they are still ignoring some really effective public health interventions that could really bring down deaths and injuries and costs for the state," Gillan said.

However, Arizona officials have challenged the report, claiming the laws in question would not help lower driving fatality rates.

A report from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety indicates traffics deaths linked to unrestrained vehicle occupants, alcohol-impaired drivers, motorcyclists without helmets and teen drivers dropped from 2006 to 2009, a feat that was reached without passing new laws, the media outlet stated.

"We are following what our indicators are and pushing to do safety programs to save and prevent tragedies," said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. "We don’t have to consult or react to anything the rest of the country does."

Gutier added that traffic deaths have continued dropping across the nation in recent years, and that trend is holding true in Arizona, where the number of traffic deaths has fallen from 1,293 in 2006 to 807 in 2009, and further to 762 in Arizona in 2010, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the new report.

However, Gutier also conceded that part of those declines were due to high gas prices leading to less drivers in the state.