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Phoenix police report 80% increase in traffic deaths so far this year

(KTAR News photo/Jim Cross)

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Police Department has shed light on recent data that shows an alarming trend continuing on the streets in the city.

A spokesperson with the Phoenix Police Department confirmed to KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday there were 59 fatal collisions reported from Jan. 1 to June 13 of last year.

This year, that number has increased by 80%.

Year to date, the Phoenix Police Department reports 99 fatal collisions with 106 fatalities.

Some of those fatalities are due to drivers running red lights.

Following the tragic death of 27-year-old Phoenix Police Officer Ginarro New on May 31, the dangers of red-light running have made headlines again in Phoenix.

Arizona has the highest rate of red-light running fatalities per capita in the nation, according to the most recent report published by AAA in 2019.

The report indicates 352 people were killed in Arizona by red light-running crashes from 2008 to 2017.

Phoenix alone had 132 fatalities due to the crashes in that 10-year period.

Officer New was on duty when a car driven by 31-year-old Christopher Castro sped through the intersection of Greenway Parkway and Cave Creek Road and slammed into the officer’s patrol Tahoe.

Sgt. Ann Justus described the sad reality the Phoenix Police Department has faced over the last few weeks.

“The day we laid that officer to rest, our officers had to respond to another traffic fatality that included three victims where a mother and her two teen children were struck by a red-light runner,” Justus said.

Justus was referring to the five-vehicle wreck involving a Phoenix bus that left three people dead and seven injured near 17th and Missouri avenues on June 10.

“Our officers are saying goodbye to one of their own and now they’re having to respond to this scene and see it all over again,” Justus added.

The Phoenix Police Department does not know what is causing the increasing trend in traffic deaths in the city, but they do plan to work with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to access the trends and see what could be contributing to the rise in numbers.

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