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Study: The Deadliest Roads in Arizona

Despite constant safety improvements and safe driver initiatives, Arizona’s road fatalities are a growing concern. From 2013-2015, the Arizona Department of Transportation reported 2,302 total fatal crashes, resulting in 2,520 traffic deaths – 886 of which were drunk driving-related.

While fatal collisions can occur anywhere along Arizona’s road network, we wanted to pinpoint areas that might be particularly deadly. So, with the help of data firm 1Point21Interactive, we analyzed crash and fatality data from 2013-2015 to determine exactly which stretches of highway in Arizona had the highest incidence of traffic fatalities.

Through our analysis, we identified 33 deadly stretches of highway that accounted for 359 total fatalities – 95 of which were drunk driving-related.

These 33 road segments – totaling just 223 miles in length – accounted for 14% of all motor vehicle fatalities in Arizona during that time frame.

Why Did We Perform This Analysis?

Highlighting freeways with high frequencies of fatal accidents can be an invaluable preventive measure in road safety. It not only informs drivers of which roads to avoid or be wary of, but can also promote awareness of these roads to any state officials looking to make improvements in general traffic safety. If our study impacts traffic safety in any positive manner, we consider it a success.

Phoenix

As expected, Phoenix had more deadly stretches than any other Arizona city, with 7 segments totaling about 65 miles of road. These highway stretches accounted for 112 fatal crashes, resulting in 122 fatalities, with 48 attributed to drunk driving – 51% of all drunk driving fatalities in our list.

A notable stretch of highway is a 38-mile length of Interstate 10 that runs from Litchfield Park to Sun Lakes: it accounted for 59 fatal crashes and 64 total fatalities. In terms of sheer quantity, it certainly tops our list by a considerable margin. However, taking the sheer length of the highway into consideration yields a rate of 1.65 fatalities per mile – one that is middle-of-the-pack in our list.

After adjusting for segment length, the segment in Phoenix with the highest incidence of fatalities is actually a 1.5-mile stretch of State Route 101 near the Sheely Farms community. With 6 fatalities, this minuscule segment has 4.01 fatalities per mile – fifth in our list of highway segments with a high volume of fatalities.

Also notable is a 4-mile segment of Interstate 17 near the W Bell Rd exit. With 5 drunk driving fatalities, this stretch of highway has the highest rate of drunk driving fatalities per mile among all 33 segments on our list, at 1.24.

Scottsdale

In our analysis, Scottsdale contained three stretches of highway with a high incidences of deaths, totaling 31 fatal crashes and 33 fatalities across approximately 19 miles of road.

The most concerning segment is an 8.3-mile stretch of State Route 101 that starts at the Sands East neighborhood and runs all the way down to the Superstition Freeway interchange in Tempe. This length of highway had 20 fatalities, for a relatively high rate of 2.41 fatalities per mile – the highest in Scottsdale (and Tempe). A cluster of particular trouble within this segment is a length of two blocks between East Rio Salado Parkway and West Main Street, where 6 fatal crashes led to 6 fatalities – the most highly concentrated two-block segment along this stretch of highway, and one that warrants further investigation.

Flagstaff

Flagstaff has the same number of notable highway stretches as Scottsdale. However, although they’ve tallied only a couple miles less than Scottsdale, the city had 20 fatalities – roughly 40% less than Scottsdale.

Flagstaff’s highways are not as dangerous as those of other major cities such as Phoenix and Scottsdale. Interestingly, all three stretches occur on Interstate 40, with the most dangerous stretch being on the eastern outskirts of the Coconino National Forest, with 1.48 fatalities per mile.

The 5-mile stretch of I-40 closer to Flagstaff proper actually had 2 more fatal crashes, but 1 less fatality than the aforementioned highway stretch.

Buckeye

Two notable stretches of highway with a considerable amount of fatalities fell in Buckeye, a western suburb of Phoenix. A 12-mile length of Interstate 10 between South Oglesby Road and Bob Stump Memorial Parkway was the site of 11 fatal crashes that resulted in 11 fatalities – a rate of 0.88 fatalities per mile.

The real danger, and surprise, here lies in a brief northbound stretch of South Oglesby Road directly below the aforementioned I-10 segment. Spanning just over 1 mile, this stretch had 6 crashes and 6 fatalities – a rate of 5.24 fatalities per mile. That is not only the highest incidence of fatalities in Buckeye, but also in the entire state of Arizona, according to our list.

Interestingly, nearly all of the fatal collisions occurred at two intersections within a block from each other: South Oglesby & West Broadway, and South Oglesby & West Southern. The former tallied three fatal crashes, while the latter tallied two.

The large volume of fatalities at these cross-streets may be due to multiple reasons:

  • South Oglesby Road is a one-way street heading northbound, while West Broadway and West Southern remain two-way streets.
  • Both intersections are two-way stops: South Oglesby Road has no stop signs at both intersections, while West Broadway and West Southern do.
  • Both roads are in fairly remote parts of the state, which can promote excess speeding.

These factors can lead to wrong-way crashes, rear-end crashes due to stopped cars turning at the intersection, and other serious speed-related accidents. Whatever the case may be, this stretch certainly warrants further investigation – especially for a city deemed the seventh-fastest growing city in the United States in 2016 by the Census Bureau.

Tucson

Although Tucson is the second-most populous city in Arizona behind Phoenix, its highways had a considerably lower amount of road fatalities, according to our study. Just 2 stretches of road were found to have high quantities of fatalities, totaling 11 crashes and 12 fatalities across 10.73 total miles. A 3.8-mile stretch of Interstate 10 through south Tucson displayed the most deaths, but at 1.58 fatalities per mile, the rate wasn’t as high as some other stretches on our list – ranking 17th out of 33 highway segments.

Other Noteworthy Segments

Other highway lengths that caught our eye include:

  • Interstate 40, Holbrook – This 1.74 miles segment and has 9 fatalities, making it the second highest rate in our study with 5.17 fatalities per mile.
  • Interstate 17, Anthem – Although this segment accumulated less fatalities compared to the others on the list, 60% of the fatalities were due to drunk driving.
  • Grand Avenue, Glendale – The only notable stretch of highway we found in Glendale, this 12-mile length of Grand Avenue (also known as US Highway 60) tallied 22 fatalities.

Methodology & Data Sources

Our study used Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the years 2013, 2014 and 2015. Highway data comes from the U.S. Census for primary and secondary roadways.

Fatal collisions within 2.5 miles of each other were grouped together to form each stretch. More information available upon request.

To get experienced help with any type of auto accident claim, call Cullan & Cullan at (602) 900-9483.

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