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Arizona ranks 3rd highest in the nation for pedestrian deaths

(Flickr Photo/Robert Kuykendall)

A new report finds Arizona has one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths in the country.

The report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association finds Arizona ranks third in the United States for the most pedestrian deaths per capita. A total of 97 pedestrians were killed during the first six months of 2016, up from 86 deaths in the first half of 2015.

Nationwide, the report found there were 6,000 pedestrians killed last year, the highest number in more than two decades.

Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said jaywalking is one of the causes for pedestrian deaths in Arizona.

“Others are looking at their cell phone or doing text messaging while walking,” he said. “I saw it a couple days ago. Some person was walking and actually crossing Central Avenue midblock, and they couldn’t get their heads off their phone.”

Gutier said another contributing factor is speeding, as well motorists who run a red light or a stop sign.

The report’s findings come several months after Arizona was awarded a grant by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. Florida and Tennessee were also awarded the grant.

Gutier said his office plans to spend the grant money to educate the public and to raise awareness about pedestrian and bicycle deaths in the state. He said part of the grant will also go toward added enforcement.

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