[update: 9/28/2017 — driver charged w/ 2nd degree murder]
Impaired drivers remain a serious threat to bicyclists. And pedestrians. And other drivers. And passengers.
9/22/2017 “just after midnight” Bicyclist (60-year-old Peter Rankin) killed incidentally when a suspected impaired, speeding driver (Kevin Richard Hevel, 30) sideswiped another vehicle; jumped the curb onto the sidewalk where he struck and killed the bicyclist, kept going (of course) and continued on to rear-end a Glendale police cruiser. Near 59th and Glendale Ave, in Glendale, AZ.
Why do drunk drivers so often flee the scene? Simple, the penalty for hit-and-run, despite being a serious felony, is at worst a few days in jail and suspended sentence with some probation. Being caught causing a wreck while impaired will reliably net the driver 10.5 years in prison. Lawmakers, recognizing there is a problem, have strengthened hit-and-run penalties multiple times in the recent past, the justice system (prosecutors and judges) continues to treat a conviction for hit-and-run something akin to minor misdemeanor. Last year, 10 of the 30 bicyclists killed in AZ were by hit-and-run drivers.
Meanwhile the state, with the specific encouragement of Gov Ducey is going ahead with a technological plan to try to curb wrong-way freeway crashes, which are predominantly caused by impaired drivers. This cannot have more than a tiny impact on traffic safety; as there are hundreds of impaired driver-caused deaths per year in AZ, while the number of them that end killing somebody on the freeway the wrong way is tiny.
What would improve traffic safety meaningfully? Reducing the number of impaired drivers on the roads. Traffic patrols could help in a significant way, but that would, unfortunately, cost real money.
AZ GOHS reports that DUI arrests across Arizona have declined significantly 2012-2015 (dropping from 32,174 to 26,814 over the period). This might be good news, indicating DUI is declining and traffic in general is getting safer, alas there are increasing numbers of not just crashes and injuries/deaths, dut also specifically DUI involved fatal crashes increased over the same period from 251 to 270.
So it appears we’ve got more drivers driving (VMT has increased modestly over period), and presumably more drivers driving drunk, along with declining arrests for DUI.
Driver charged, news story.
There’s a bunch of prior traffic difficulties listed in case lookup. A number of them for no license or suspended/revoked license though it’s not clear why (he had no valid license).
original news story– PD: Driver hit SUV, killed bicyclist in Glendale before hitting police car
9/22/2017 GLENDALE, AZ – Glendale police are investigating after a suspected drunken driver hit an SUV, a bicyclist and then an officer’s patrol vehicle.
Police say the crash scene occurred near 59th and Glendale avenues early Friday morning where an officer saw a driver sideswipe an SUV. After that, the driver struck a bicycle, killing the rider, before continuing down the road.
While turning through the intersection, the driver then hit the back of a Glendale Police patrol car.
The officer and a civilian who were in the police car were treated for injuries but are said to be OK.
The driver of the suspect vehicle was taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Speed and impairment are believed to be factors in the multi-vehicle, hit-and-run crash.