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80 have died on Arizona highways this year, many due to preventable causes

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PHOENIX — The number of deaths recorded on Arizona highways this year has reached 80, but many of them were preventable, authorities said.

“It’s tragic,” Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Kameron Lee told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Friday.

“This time last year, we were at 65, which again is tragic, but we’ve increased from this year to last year,” Lee said.

The department does not know for certain why deaths on the highways have increased, but Lee said one reason could be more drivers on the road, especially those traveling north to see winter weather.

Col. Frank Milstead tweeted last week that 30 percent of occupants killed were not wearing seat belts, and a quarter of the drivers involved in fatal accidents were impaired.

“As Col. Milstead said, a lot of those are due to people being unbuckled, not having their seat belt on, which is such an easy thing to do, and several of those, quite a few of those, actually, are a result of impairment,” Lee said.

“There’s two things right there that could really have cut these numbers in half had somebody made a good decision to either buckle your seat belt, not drive impaired, or both.”

Lee said the department wants Arizonans to know that the “devastating effects” of incidents like these is why police enforce traffic laws “so strictly.”

“We’re looking for compliance, we’re not looking to stop people and cite them, to arrest them,” Lee said.

“We’re looking for people to just comply with the laws we have on the books, and everyone’s going to go home at night safely.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

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