All posts by ArizonaBikeLaw

Arizona 2007 Traffic Fatalities Plummet

I just heard Michael Hegarty, spokesman for AZ GOHS and/or AZ GTSAC, on the radio reporting that 2007 traffic fatalities fell to 1066 — a 17% decrease from 2006.
This would be an enormous decrease. He seemed pretty nonchalant about it. A drop of this magnitude is unprecedented.

Bicyclist’s fatalities fell the most, 27%, which is good news of course. But I must caution that since there are very few this number fluctuates greatly from year-to-year. The number of bicyclist fatalities has varied from as low as 15 to as high as 36 over the past couple of decades, with no perceptible trend.

Anyway, overall this would be consistent with a large reported drop on state highways (as opposed to all roads). This data was announced back in January and comes out much sooner than the whole-state rollup.

Press accounts published June 6th papers were likewise muted: Arizona Republic and KOLD ran the AP account, East Valley Tribune, which carried this breakdown, sourced to the GTSAC, though I can’t find anything on their website:

TYPE 2006 2007 Change
Pedestrians 167 157 -6%
Motorcyclists 142 135 -5%
Bicyclists 29 21 -28%
Others 18
TOTALS 1288 1066 -17%

Associated Press – June 5, 2008 6:04 PM ET

PHOENIX (AP) – State officials say traffic accidents are claiming fewer lives in Arizona.

The Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Council says 1,066 people were killed in traffic-related accidents in 2007. That’s down 17% from the 1,288 deaths in 2006.

The council also says the 2007 figure is the lowest since 2001 and that the state’s population has grown by more than 1 million since then.

The council credits driver education and law enforcement efforts for the reduction.

Arizona’s Teenage Driver Safety Act

Arizona is behind the curve on this, most other states have already done something similar years ago. Arizona’s previous graduated driver’s license was had no teeth.

According to AAA AZ, who supported the legislation: “Arizona is 1 of only 5 states that does not provide either nighttime driving restrictions or passenger limitations for new teenage drivers”, and “Studies of intermediate driving programs in individual states have reported reduction in fatal crash rates of novice drivers that ranged from 11% to 32%”
Chapter 206 HB2033 (48th legislature, 1st regular session, 2007 LAST YEAR, why did it take over a year to become effective??) Arizona’s Teenage Driver Safety Act goes into effect July 1. Here are its key points:

  • Establishes Graduated Driver License, where licensed drivers, ages 16-17, do not have full driving privileges until six months after licensing.
  • Increases supervised training requirement from 25 to 30 hours, of which 10 must be at night.
  • Prohibits driving from midnight to 5 a.m., for the first six months, with exemptions for job, religious or school activities or family emergencies.
  • Limits number of non-family teenage passengers to one, during first six months.
  • Establishes fines and extensions of restrictions for non-compliance.

Trauma nurse has message for teen drivers, AZ Republic, June 2, 2008

I’m thinking a year would have been a more reasonable time restriction.

AAA Arizona has a big transportation legislation roundup here.

Deal to increase sales tax to build roads

There is an initiative floating around from some group called the “TIME Coalition”.

A shady backroom deal cooked up between Napolitano and the Arizona Home Builders is almost too much to bear. It seems the home builders have engineered a way to escape any extra taxation (impact fees) by helping out the governor with another of here proposals. More here: nototime.blogspot.com including an image of the leaked agreement

As a tactic to derail TIME’s proposition (should it make it to the ballot), no-new-taxes lawmakers are preparing their own legislative initiative. This would set up a situation where potentially there could be two similar but competing ballot propositions both dealing with “transportation”. Rep. Russell Pearce’s legislation would put a ballot proposition that would levy a 1/2 percent addition general state sales tax whose revenues would be used for building roads. This is meant to stick it in the eye of TIME’s proposition which spends some of its revenue on public transportation — but not very much, 78% is on roads and freeways and only around 20% is on public transit. Rival Transportation Plan Posed, Arizona Republic, May 30, 2008.

License Plate Covers

Apparently the existing law, §28-2354, which requires that vehicle license plates be displayed “clearly legibly” isn’t clear enough for police, who don’t seem to enforce that law.

Thus House Bill HB2250 (48th legislature, 2nd regular session, 2008) which would make the rules about covers crystal clear: “…a person shall not apply a covering or any substance to the license plate”.

Unfortunately, the provision is tangled up with the abortion debate — strange but true! It turns out the cover thing is in a bill involving special license plates… thus the controversy.

And as if one controversy wasn’t enough, the cover thing is clearly aimed at would-be camera violators.

By the way, probably the most controversial use of photo enforcement was speed cameras on a section of Loop 101 in Scottsdale. ASU engineering professor Simon Washington’s research has consistently showed only good things in terms of safety and even a time savings due to reduced speed — that is the time savings due to fewer crashes more than offset the time lost by lower speed. See Speed cameras help travel time, report says, Arizona Republic,May 13, 2008.

Unmentioned and unquantified in the report are not only fuel consumption, and air pollution benefits. Mean speeds were reduced from 73 before to 64 mph after enforcement. Vehicles’ toxic NOX pollution increases substantially with increased speed. NOX turns into ozone.