2007 Arizona claims enormous improvement in VMT fatality rate

I guess it takes a long time for the VMT state-by-state rates to trickle out — but they are all here. The numbers are close to, but not the same as, ADOT’s 2007 Motor Vehicle Crash Facts.

The VMT fatality rate for 2007 is 1.69 fatalities per per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled. This is substantially improved from just one year ago of 2.07. As usual, Arizona remains significantly worse than the US average rate of 1.36.

The AZ Republic news article usually says the same sorts of things, e.g. “Alberto Gutier, who returned Wednesday as director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, a post he held from 1995 to 2003, credits Arizona’s tough stance on drunken driving for lowering the fatality rate.”

Yet that certainly doesn’t seem to explain the precipitious drop from 2006. Alcohol-impaired percentages have been running consistently around 30% for 5 years (which mirrors the US average, by the way). So how would that explain a huge drop?

And we’ve got a large drop coming in 2008 to explain as well. Though the general explanation involves a drop in VMT, due to poor economy. And photo-enforcement may have contributed as well in 2008, but that’s probably small contribution overall.

The real explanation may have more to do with 2006, at 1299 fatals, being a particularly bad year.