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Number of pedestrian-involved deaths in Arizona increases in 2017

(Flickr/Sarah Laval)

PHOENIX — The number of pedestrian-involved deaths in Arizona has increased slightly over the last year, but has spiked dramatically compared to two years ago.

According to Alberto Gutier with the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the state has seen at least 210 pedestrian-involved deaths in 2017, compared to 197 in 2016. The state only had about 150 of those deaths in 2015.

And Gutier said the numbers from 2017 are expected to increase, as the state has not yet logged pedestrian-involved deaths from November or December. But so far, he said, that 210 number means about one-fifth of all fatalities in the state have been pedestrian deaths.

“One in seven fatalities nationwide are pedestrian deaths,” Gutier said. “Well, it’s not one in seven in Arizona, it’s closer to one in five.”

The state has seen an increase of more than 700,000 drivers on state roads over the last several years, Gutier said, adding that more drivers mean more issues, crashes and, ultimately, fatalities.

Gutier said a large number of pedestrian-involved accidents — both fatal and non-fatal — occur when a driver is turning right on a red light and fails to see someone in the crosswalk. Turning right on a red light could also mean that the driver is paying attention to the traffic and potentially not someone crossing the street.

Cell phone use behind the wheel can also mean the difference between a safe drive and one that puts someone at risk. Gutier said both drivers and pedestrians can help prevent the problem by simply putting their cell phones down.

But Gutier said the responsibility to ensure the safety of pedestrians ultimately lies in the hands of drivers, who must always yield to pedestrians, whether they are in marked crosswalks or not.

KTAR News’ Ali Vetnar and Jeremy Foster contributed to this report. 

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