Right now, the Tucson Police Department’s traffic unit is writing a plan to study and try to prevent more people walking on our streets from being hit and killed.

By the end of this January, TPD had investigated 10 deadly pedestrian crashes. At the end of January 2023, only two pedestrians had died in cases like this.

KGUN9 went to the department’s central station downtown to talk to an investigator about the patterns she is seeing. Lt. Lauren Pettey has looked at the factors in many of these deadly crashes.

She said, in most cases, after a driver hit someone, that person is not running away. “More often than not,” Pettey said, “the drivers are cooperating with the investigation and we have noticed that they tend to be actually driving the speed limit.”

Pettey added that in these cases, the driver followed traffic laws, and officers ultimately learned the pedestrian was at fault for crossing either in the wrong place or the wrong time. “If we have other factors,” she said, “for example: speeding or a DUI going on, that’s completely different case and we treat that differently.”

Based on TPD’s crash reports this past month, half of January’s deadly cases are putting the responsibility on the driver: one was a DUI, another was a failure to yield; officers also investigated a hit-and-run and a separate crash where the driver did not yielding to the person in crosswalk.

In the last deadly crash of the month, January 30, TPD said the woman who was hit walked in the crosswalk when it wasn’t her turn, but officers learned the driver was going well over the 30 MPH night-time speed limit on 22nd Street.

“Any time you have streets that go above 35 miles an hour,” Pettey said, “the rate of a pedestrian fatality is even higher.”

KGUN9 made a map of the deadly pedestrian crashes that TPD investigated in January. Some happened on major city thoroughfares like Speedway Boulevard, Craycroft Road, 22nd Street and Alvernon Way.

Lt. Pettey mentioned there’s another key factor: the time of day, or rather, night, when more people are out driving or walking. In taking a closer look at TPD’s reports, out of the 10 deadly cases, seven people were hit between 6 p.m. and midnight.

“One of the things that is actually a national trend right now is we’re seeing an uptick with earlier hours,” she said.

“It’s darker earlier, right? Between the hours of 6 pm and midnight is our area, where we’re actually focusing a lot of resources to try to do, specifically, education outreach with pedestrians.”

TPD wants to remind pedestrians to look both ways and walk in the crosswalk when the signal allows you to go. Drivers should focus on the road and be prepared for any unexpected decisions someone makes on the sidewalk.

KGUN9 will check back in with officers as they write out the strategic plan and ask the Governor’s Office for Highway Safety for grant money to purchase new technology.