Number of state traffic fatalities drops 17 percent

ADOT credits better education and enhanced enforcement for decline

KINGMAN - It could be the rise in gas prices, increased driver awareness through education or stiffer Driving Under the Influence laws, but the Arizona Department of Transportation has reported a 17 percent drop in the number of traffic-related deaths last year.

According to the department, last year, 1,066 people were killed in traffic-related accidents. In 2006, around 1,288 people were killed; this despite an increase of nearly five million registered vehicles since 2001.

The city of Kingman had no traffic-related deaths last year, said Sgt. Rusty Cooper of the Kingman Police Department, although there may have been a few accidents that occurred near Kingman, but outside of the department's jurisdiction.

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office reported nine traffic deaths, down from 12 deaths in 2006.

A complete breakdown of the number of impaired drivers, unrestrained motorists, speed-related deaths, etc., will not be available until later this year. ADOT is crediting better education and enforcement of traffic laws with saving lives.

"It is encouraging to see the decrease in fatalities in 2007. That means our message to drive sober, fasten your seat belt, keep your attention on the road - and others- are working," said Gov. Janet Napolitano.

"The increased educational programs from state agencies and community safety partners, along with law enforcement details and activities to remove dangerous drivers, have helped create safer motorist behavior," said Richard Fimbres, director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety.