With the summer travel season just weeks away, most Arizonans will be hitting the road to escape the heat.
But did you know that Arizona’s highways are some of the most dangerous in the country?
“There’s no easy or good way to tell someone that their family member is never coming home,” said Department of Public Safety Sgt. Dan Larimer, who patrols a large rural area northwest of the Valley.
There were more than 45,000 people injured and 700 killed in auto accidents last year in Arizona.
The ABC15 Investigators pulled crash data for every fatal crash for the past three years and mapped every single one to find the deadliest stretches of road in Arizona.
Many of the worst stretches are highways.
“This area has a much higher fatal collision rate than metro areas,” said Larimer, speaking about his patrol area. “They have more collisions. We have worse collisions.”
Nancy Uhl will never forget the day she lost her husband, who died on Highway 93 in September.
“Twenty five years of sharing every day together and now that’s gone,” Uhl said.
Matt Uhl – a Department of Public Safety helicopter pilot – was driving to Kingman for an extra shift when he was struck head-on by another car that drifted into his lane on a two-lane stretch of road. Uhl died instantly. No one survived the crash.
“If they show up at your door at midnight, it’s not good,” Nancy Uhl said. “I knew what they had to say before they had to say it.”
A few weeks ago, Nancy Uhl went back to milepost 188 -- the scene of the crash. She put up a cross for each of the victims.
The three men died on one of the deadliest stretches of road in Arizona -- Highway 93.
From 2009 to 2011, 48 people were killed in crashes on the road, the main route from the Valley to Las Vegas.
The ABC15 Investigators also looked at the crashes on three other popular routes for Arizona drivers.
- Interstate 17, Phoenix to Flagstaff: 72 deaths
- Interstate, Phoenix to Tucson: 81 deaths
- Interstate 10, Phoenix to California: 85 deaths
Larimer said almost all highway crashes come down to excessive speed, aggressive or illegal passing, and inattentive or impaired drivers.
That’s why officers enforce the law, he said, because they see the consequences every day.
“If that means I write you a ticket and you get where you’re going to, I’ll write that ticket every day of the week – all week long,” Larimer said. “It’s to make sure you don’t get in an accident, that you’re not a statistic.”