The two most significant holidays of the year are right around the corner, and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office wants to encourage you to make your safety a priority. The holidays can be stressful and distracting, but our focus should be on the road while we're behind the wheel. Driving in the valley can be dangerous; from wrong-way drivers, erratic drivers, red-light runners, and street racers, there are always hazards on the road.
In a recent study of Arizona's most dangerous roads, the top 10 list was made solely of roads and intersections in Maricopa County. During the three years of the study, the county had 1,324 accidents, most of which occurred on the I-10 and involved either speeding or drunk driving.
A 2019 study by the AAA Foundation also found that Arizona had the most deaths in the country, per capita, from drivers running red lights, with 2020 taking the record for most crashes since 2011. This year has also been a deadly one for wrong-way accidents. 10 out of the 30 crashes that occurred this year had fatalities.
Don't wreck the holidays! Driving recklessly not only puts you, your passengers, and others on the road at risk, it can also affect your wallet and criminal record since Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws as well as distracted driving laws and penalties for street racers.
The most important message we can share this holiday season is to never get behind the wheel of a car if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For many reasons, people drink more during the winter holidays than at other times of the year. Regardless, alcohol has the same effects and will continue to affect your brain and body long after you've had your last drink. So don't underestimate the impact of alcohol. Think before you drink and plan for a safe ride before walking out your door.
Follow these other driving tips for a safe holiday season:
- Always make sure you and your passengers wear their seat belts before taking off.
- Before you get on the road, set up your navigation, other car settings, and put your phone on 'Do Not Disturb' to avoid being distracted while driving.
- Follow all traffic signals and the posted speed limit; give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination to avoid being rushed while driving.
- If you can avoid driving during rush hour, typically between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., and late-night between midnight and 3 a.m. when bars begin to close.
- Tensions tend to be high on the road, be patient with other drivers and keep your distance from erratic ones.
- Talk to your teen drivers about these safety tips and remind them not to drive with extra passengers.
The holiday season is a time of giving, and the best gift you can give others is to be a safe driver. We hope these tips will help you make intelligent decisions on and off the road.