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Arizona DPS wants drivers to travel safely as freeways begin to fill up

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Department of Transportation)

PHOENIX — As people start to pack Valley freeways once again after taking a break from driving due to the coronavirus, the Arizona Department of Public Safety is reminding drivers to practice safe driving.

DPS data shows the number of collisions on freeways has gone down since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In February, DPS investigated 3,102 collisions, including those that involved injuries and fatalities. In March, that number dropped to 1,283.

A year-over-year comparison shows similar findings. Between March 1 and May 22 of last year, DPS investigated 8,460 collisions, compared to 4,893 during the same time frame this year.

“People returning to the roadways again need to remember that, whether it’s light traffic or heavy traffic, nothing has changed,” DPS Spokesperson Bart Graves told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“If you speed or if you drive distracted, you have a good chance of being in a collision.”

Graves said the drop in the number of collisions is a good thing, but he fears the number will increase again if people don’t adhere to speed limits.

“People need to slow down, pay close attention to the speed and limit and their speed,” he said.

Graves also advised drivers to avoid all distractions while driving.

“Make sure your full attention is on the road in front of you,” he added.

“Put the phone down. Do not be distracted by anything else happening in your vehicle with your passengers, for instance.”

Graves said drivers should not drive impaired. He noted that over the Memorial Day weekend DPS troopers were very busy with a number of incidents on valley freeways that involved suspected impaired drivers.

DPS data shows that while the number of collisions on Arizona freeways has dropped by about half, DUI arrests have only dropped slightly. DPS arrested 1,280 drivers on suspicion of DUI between March 1 and May 22 of last year, compared to 1,052 during the same time frame last year.

“Don’t drink, don’t do drugs before you get behind the wheel,” Graves said. “If you are impaired to any degree, don’t take the risk.”

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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