DPS stats shed light on distracted driving

Recently in the wake of the death of DPS officer Tim Huffman due to what appears to be blatant distracted driving… and this being distracted driving awareness month; Arizona DPS is running a crackdown and general media campaign, and has released some Arizona numbers on distracted driving. Here is the DPS press release; a news story is pasted below.

summary: distraction of any kind is associated with about 1 in 10 crashes (1,160 out of ~ 10,000 crashes reviewed); and cell use was the cause of distraction in about  one-quarter of those crashes (127 of the 1,160). SO DON’T JUST DWELL ON CELL PHONES. Continue reading

Arizona court ruling upholds DUI test for marijuana

[ 4/22/2014:  in what is presumably the final update, the Arizona Supreme court ruled 4-1 that  it is not a DUI violation to be driving with the non-impairing marijuana metabolite in their bodies. In other words, the reversed the Court of Appeals ruling. Here's a pretty good news item wrapup from the New Times. The lone dissenter offered a detailed analysis as part of the published opinion; I tend to side with her, that the majority overreached by concluding a flat ban, which is the plain language of the law, produces absurd results. But there you have it.]

This idea of any non-zero level of (a long list of) drugs, or their metabolites, being equated with driving impaired has always worried me; this recent CoA ruling affirms that this is proper. So, nothing to do with this case, i’m wondering if a decongestant, pseudophedrine (commonly found in many cold medicines) cause dui per 28-1381(A)3??? why or why not. I am chemistry challenged.


There are three ways to run afoul of Arizona’s DUI statue. The most common would be #2, BAC > .08 (referred to as drunk per se), typically anymore it is via blood evidence; another way is #1 being “under the influence… if … impaired to the slightest degree”, typically via field sobriety tests. The third way, and the one at issue here is #3, “While there is any drug … or its metabolite in the person’s body”. Continue reading

Arizona Legislature considers defining motorized quadricycles

The tourdetavern.com has been operating in Scottsdale since 2012.

Somewhere out of the blue; House trans committee chairperson Rep Karen Fann introduced an amendment that makes definitions and regulations for commercial multiple-person, pedaled, motor-assisted quadricycles. Often offered as a “party bus” where the riders drink and pedal around (presumably the driver remains sober). This is an amendment to SB1201 a striker bill that defined Autocycle as essentially an enclosed 3-wheeled motorcycle.  Continue reading

Man killed while mowing the grass

Flowers adorn the central Phoenix wall on April 8 that a car rammed through following a wreck involving teen drivers in late March. The victim, Octavio Grijalva Herrera, died from his injuries.(Photo: Randsom Rockliffe/The Republic)

Killed while mowing the grass? Seriously, how often does this stuff happen? 52nd and Earll in Phoenix is a residential neighborhood:

Jose Angel Gonzales, 17, and Esteban Chavez Jr., 16, were reportedly racing down a residential street near Earll Drive and 52nd Street (Phoenix) on March 26, when Gonzalez blew through a stop sign and collided with a Toyota pickup. The pickup crashed through a cinder block wall and hit Grijalva, 61, who was mowing a lawn. azcental.com

Octavio Grijalva Herrera later died of his injuries. The teens have since been indicted on eight charges including manslaughter, endangerment; Chavez was also charged with leaving the scene.

Automobiles are frequently driven negligently and go careening all over the place; like the Maricopa county deputy who was speeding 81mph along a Glendale street recently… fortunately only 1 person was killed in that incident; as can be easily seen from the video it’s only a matter of coincidence and luck that more weren’t killed by the out-of-control vehicles.

The Arizona Republic had a nice, tear-jerking story reflecting on the victim. Phoenix landscaper killed by crash remembered, who was a veritable caricature of a hard-working immigrant (permanent legal resident; in case anyone was wondering). The story, as if on cue said “On this particular day, Hererra was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”, which is undoubtedly true.

Car Carnage Wrapup + GM Ignition Switch recall

Phew, 10 dead in just two incidents. In Arizona. In the past few days. The news had been dominated by headlines and Congressional hearings revolving around approximately 13 deaths over something like a decade ( and throughout the entire county, of course) that are linked to a defective GM ignition switch part. Here is how in one instance the defect is said to be linked to the driver’s death, from the Detroit Free Press describes how “…(the victim) got into her Chevrolet Cobalt, jammed down the accelerator and lost control in a nearby cul-de-sac, slamming into a tree. The impact crushed her against the steering wheel. She wasn’t wearing a seat belt; she’d been drinking, too. Despite the crash, the air bags didn’t go off…”. I don’t know if that’s typical or not, presumably some of the crashes could be due to loss of power (brakes/steering) but that’s besides the point…

I can’t help thinking that if as much attention were paid to the ~ 400,000 other traffic deaths that have occurred in the US over the past decade, we might get somewhere on the problem of traffic fatalities being a leading cause of death among Americans. Continue reading

Another stroller death; Toddler killed in Phoenix Walmart parking lot

incident 1pm Thursday March 20, 2014 on a “private access road” near 75th Avenue and McDowell Road in Phoenix . Hints from the news story indicate this will likely be a non-traffic death (occurred “on a private access-road”) — meaning this could be one of the many automobile deaths that aren’t counted in the official statistics. Around 32,000 Americans are killed each year in traffic collisions –according to official statistics — how many more are there?

No names released (so will be, of course, difficult to follow up on); only ages: dead is a 3-year-old boy, slightly injured is a female babysitter; the driver is a 22-year-old man. The business about drugs seems highly speculative and the likely investigation outcome will find this to have been an unavoidable “accident” — meaning for some reason the driver, despite what obviously must have been limited sight-distances, wasn’t expected to simply drive a little more slowly. Why not? Continue reading

Crash charge weighed vs. deputy

81mph? No lights? No siren? This is completely reckless; not to mention going to cost Maricopa County taxpayers a huge bundle. I don’t even think I can imagine any legitimate scenario for ever driving that speed on city streets even in an emergency; but whatever, there was no emergency here whatsoever. 81MPH is 119 feet per second. Hooray for Glendale PD for recommending charges; the story implies charges might have been (or might still be) buried. Continue reading

Dodge Blvd Bridge and sub-standard Pima Co bike facilites

First off — never ride too close to the edge of the road; you are more likely to run into problems there including debris, bad road surface conditions or other obstructions like drainage grates and so forth.  See where to ride on the road for more.

Pima County / Tucson does not have “Bike Lanes”, they, if asked, insist there are no bike lanes, but rather they are “Bike Routes with Striped Shoulders“. Though of course they (everyone, including Pima County’s press releases ) refer to these odd bike facilities as bike lanes whenever convenient — e.g. “The bike lanes on the Dodge Boulevard Bridge over the Rillito River will be closed for drainage modifications, starting at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, 2013. Bicyclists are asked to seek an alternate route.”

Now there’s this… this is a real abomination:


(I’m not sure if this reflects what is there now, or rather what was there at the time of this bad crash) Here’s a google maps street view of the Dodge Blvd bridge over the Rillito near Tucson (apparently it’s owned by Pima County). There is some sort of weird 2′ wide band of green (paint, i guess?) directly next to the curb — from what i gather the gap referred to below is between the curb and the green paint. The google street view coincidentally caught a cyclist dutifully riding within that very narrow band of green paint, just inches from the “drainage gap”. Continue reading

Man killed in Scottsdale collision

Details from news stories are vague; occurred 3/14/2014 ~ 5:30pm (daylight). “Investigators say Moeckel drifted into the traffic lane just before he was hit”. The victim’s was 71-year-old Larry Moeckel. The story doesn’t say but one would guess the collision occurred on Pima Road somewhere south of Dixileta Drive (since another news story said Pima was closed between Dixileta and Dyanamite Blvd). No direction was specified. Google maps view of Pima Road and Dixileta Drive. Continue reading

Cycling, traffic safety, traffic justice, and legal topics; energy, transit and transportion economics