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Wrong-way crash numbers up in Arizona in 2019

(Arizona Department of Transportation Photo)

PHOENIX — A recent string of wrong-way crashes has raised awareness about their frequency in Arizona, but they have been a growing trend throughout 2019.

There have been 1,175 wrong-way incidents in the state since Jan. 1, according to numbers from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Last year at this time, there were 1,057 incidents.

A wrong-way incident is defined as anything from a collision to drivers self-correcting their mistakes.

“The biggest issue we have with wrong-way driving is people impaired,” Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday. “That’s why we see the numbers continue to go up.”

Highways across the Valley have been littered recently with wrong-way incidents, including some fatal.

Since July 17, there have been almost 150 wrong-way incident and 19 wrong-way DUI arrests.

The 83 wrong-way DUI arrests so far this year has eclipsed the 2018 total to this point of 75 and almost doubled the 2017 mark (46).

Trooper Kameron Lee told Arizona’s Morning News that crashes as of late were related to impaired driving.

The most recent wrong-way collision was Tuesday morning, when a car going the wrong way on Interstate 17 in Phoenix slammed into a semi-truck, sending one person to the hospital with serious injuries.

There have been 35 collisions this year, six of them responsible for the deaths of 16.

Gutier suggests drivers remain alert in the late evening and early morning hours because of the recent frequency of wrong-way drivers.

“Stay to the right, away from the HOV lane,” Gutier said. ” Be proactive in how you drive.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore contributed to this report.

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