Arizona is ranked 7th in the top 25 states with the highest Rural Road Fatality Rate

By Staff Reports, Arizona Farm Bureau: According to Trip, a private nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues, Arizona ranks 7th in the top 25 states with the highest rural road fatality rate in the country. Additionally, 35% of Arizona’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Arizona motorists $2.4 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, approximately $481 per Arizona motorist.

Rural roads in Arizona are critical to delivering our agriculture commodities to market. Photo courtesy Ben Menges.

Adds TRIP, America’s rural transportation system is in need of repairs and modernization to support economic growth in the nation’s Heartland, which is a critical source of energy, food and fiber. Rural America is home to an aging and increasingly diverse population that is heavily reliant on the quality of its transportation system. All this and more is according to a new report recently released by TRIP.

The report, Rural Connections: Challenges and Opportunities in America’s Heartland, evaluates the safety and condition of the nation’s rural roads and bridges and finds that the nation’s rural transportation system is in need of improvements to address deficient roads and bridges, high crash rates, and inadequate connectivity and capacity. Based in Washington, D.C., the TRIP report finds that the nation’s rural roads and bridges have significant deficiencies. Fifteen percent of U.S. rural roads are rated in poor condition, while 21 percent are in mediocre condition. Sixteen percent of the nation’s rural roads are in fair condition and the remaining 48 percent are in good condition.

Arizona Farm Bureau President Kevin Rogers explains that rural roads play a big part in getting crops and livestock to market. “It’s time to make these roads and bridges a priority,” he said. “These projects have been on the back burner too long and it’s time to put them on the top of the list.”

“Rural roads are far too often overlooked. With fatality rates rising, repairing and maintaining the nation’s roads must be a top priority for legislators,” said Kathleen Bower, AAA senior vice president of public affairs and international relations. “By investing in improvements for today and tomorrow, we can deliver safer experiences for motorists and save tens of thousands of lives.”

The quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas, and the health of the nation’s rural economy, is highly reliant on the quality of the nation’s transportation system, particularly its roads, highways and bridges. America’s rural transportation system provides the first and last link in the supply chain from farm to market, connects manufacturers to their customers, supports the tourism industry, and enables the production of energy, food and fiber. Rural Americans are more reliant on the quality of their transportation system than their urban counterparts.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on rural roads, highways and bridges to move their products to market,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Transportation delays and costs take a bite out of our profitability and competitiveness and impact the quality of rural life.  Securing the appropriate resources at the local, state and federal levels will allow for the improvements needed to provide a rural transportation system that will keep goods moving and foster economic growth.”

“We applaud the president, the new administration, and members of Congress for leading the conversation on an issue of critical importance to our 21st century economy: rebuilding America's infrastructure,” said U.S. Chamber’s Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure Ed Mortimer. “The American business community looks forward to developing and implementing a long-term plan that will bring our nation's rural and urban infrastructure up to speed and spur economic growth. Now is the time to take action and to get the job done.”

Key Facts about Arizona’s Rural Roads

  1. Thirty-five percent of Arizona’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Arizona motorists $2.4 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs, about $481 per Arizona motorist.
  2. Three percent of Arizona’s bridges are rated as structurally deficient.
  3. Thirty-nine percent of Arizona’s urban Interstates experience congestion during peak hours. Traffic congestion costs American motorists $121 billion a year in wasted time and fuel costs.
  4. Vehicle travel on Arizona’s highways increased by 36 percent from 2000 to 2016. Arizona’s population grew by 35 percent between 2000 and 2016.
  5. Vehicle travel on America’s highways increased by 17 percent from 2000 to 2016, while new road mileage increased by only five percent.
  6. A total of 4,162 people died on Arizona’s highways from 2011 through 2015.
  7. Arizona’s traffic fatality rate of 1.37 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel is higher than the national average of 1.13. The fatality rate on the state’s rural non-Interstate roads is disproportionately higher than on all other roads in the state (2.70 fatalities per 100 million miles of travel versus 1.15).

“The safety and quality of life in America’s small communities and rural areas and the health of the nation’s economy ride on our rural transportation system. The nation’s rural roads and bridges provide crucial links from farm to market, move manufactured and energy products, and provide access to countless tourism, social and recreational destinations,” said Will Wilkins, executive director of TRIP.  “Fixing the federal Highway Trust Fund with a long-term, sustainable source of revenue that supports the transportation investment needed will be crucial to the modernization of our rural transportation system.”                     

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