KGUN 9 On Your SideNewsLocal News


Tucson pedestrian deaths up

Higher than this time last year
Posted at 7:55 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 23:03:22-04

TUCSON, Ariz (KGUN) — It’s only three months into the year and pedestrians are dying at a faster pace than last year.

What’s driving the deaths and what can we do about it.

On Wednesday, a pedestrian death happened on Speedway just east of the Walmart at Speedway and Kolb. Police say the man crossed in the middle of the block. It was daylight. Police say the driver who hit him was not impaired.

Brendan Lyons looks at wrecks through the eyes of someone who barely survived one. He was cycling nine years ago when a distracted driver hit and nearly killed him. Now he leads a safety organization called Look, Save a Life.

“You know there's a number of reasons why these incidents can happen distracted driving impaired driving jaywalking, there's a number of reasons but the reality is is that 94% of all motor vehicle collisions are the direct result of human error, whether you're just not paying attention to the road looking at your phone, DUI, any number of reasons but these collisions are completely preventable,” Lyons said.

So far this year, 14 pedestrians have died on Tucson streets; five more than for this time last year.

Total pedestrian accidents tell a larger story with 213 pedestrian incidents of all types last year and 67 this year so far.

The head of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safetysays pedestrian deaths and accidents are up statewide. Alberto Gutier says drivers and pedestrians just do not respect each other on the roads.

To help get everyone's attention his office is sending departments around the state just under a half million dollars in grant money to pay for more police enforcement. He says Tucson Police are getting about 50 thousand. And he just met with Tucson’s new Police Chief.

“We’ve always been very proud of the TPD and they've done so well to work with that, Gutier said. "And that's where they all came here last week. They were here eight o’clock in the morning, and I was going through some of the things and trying to provide additional funding for things they need, including some motorcycles.”

Gutier also wants to devote money to more clearly marked crosswalks but here’s an important point. Pedestrians do not have to be in a painted crosswalk to have the right of way. Arizona law recognizes what’s called an implied crosswalk. If you cross the street walking from one curb marking an intersection to another, that is a legal crosswalk just as if you were inside some stripes. Crossing the street from the middle of the block would be illegal jaywalking.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.