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Tucson sees drop in pedestrian, cyclist fatalities in 2020

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:22 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:57 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -The pandemic affected businesses, lives and now with new data from the Tucson Department of Transportation, we’re seeing how it impacted roads.

During the pandemic, fewer people ventured outside their homes, neighborhoods and cities. But as things open back up, so is traffic.

During 2020, TDOT said general traffic volume dropped by about 20 percent.

“(The drop is) what you would expect because there are less vehicles on the road and fewer opportunities to crash,” said Blake Olofson, a traffic engineer for TDOT.

According to their annual report, TDOT said pedestrian fatalities dropped for the first time since 2013—but only slightly, down about one per 100,000.

There were several that made headlines, including the 9-year-old boy, Eduard Lautaire, who was killed crossing the street in a hit-and-run last year. His mother and brother were left watching inches away.

“Everything was correct over there,” said Valentina Lautaire, whose son was killed in hit-and-run at the intersection. “I don’t know why he never stopped.”

According to the same report, cycling fatalities also decreased. Again, only slightly, but other fatalities rose.

“We did see a decrease in pedestrian fatalities, which is a good thing. It wasn’t a huge decrease, but we like to see those numbers down,” said Olofson. “Motorcycle crashes were way up, and we’re thinking that it had to do with the pandemic.”

Fewer cars on the road might have enticed more people to ride. Motorcycle fatalities rose by more than one per every 100,000 resident.

The city received a grant for more streetlights, more left-turn arrows and better timing for stoplights. TDOT said people should still be cognizant and obey traffic laws.

“Across the nation, over 90 percent of fatalities are due to driver error,” Olofson said.

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