CASA GRANDE — A Casa Grande woman was killed Thursday night in a multi-vehicle collision on Interstate 10 north of Casa Grande, according to authorities.
It is the latest fatality along a freeway that has been designated one of the deadliest in the nation.
Cenda Ramos, 25, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident that occurred around 6:45 p.m. She was a graduate of the Casa Grande Union High School and is survived by her husband, Carlos.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety said the collision was caused by a box spring that fell off a pickup truck traveling in an eastbound lane near milepost 179, near the Casa Blanca Road interchange.
Ramos was driving a Toyota SUV behind the pickup truck. She reportedly swerved to avoid hitting the box spring and drove into the freeway’s westbound lanes. The SUV then collided head-on with an oncoming van and rolled over on its side.
The driver of the van, a 55-year-old Gilbert woman, was transported to Chandler Regional Medical Center for treatment of injuries. No other passengers or drivers were reported injured.
All drivers were reportedly wearing safety restraints at the time of the accident, according to DPS.
The freeway’s westbound lanes were closed for nearly three hours Thursday night following the accident, which caused traffic to back up for miles.
Arizona residents have become all too familiar with the accidents and dangers reported on the major trans-continental interstate, which runs from California all the way to Florida and is a necessity for many to get to and from work, to travel to Phoenix or Tucson and more. A consumer research firm also recognized the dangers when it recently released data ranking the 50 most dangerous highways in the United States, placing I-10 in the top five.
Researchers from ValuePenguin, based in New York, studied weather, lighting and drunk driving as common factors that lead to crashes using government data: 2011-2015 Fatality Analysis Reporting System statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
FARS data is a “nationwide census” that provides annual data on fatal injuries in traffic accidents.
Once ValuePenguin researchers counted the number of accidents reported on every highway in the U.S. between those years, they took the length of the 50 highways with the most fatal accidents in an attempt to determine the frequency of the fatalities.
However, the report noted, “Since these highways go over several states, it was difficult to find the average ridership for each highway, so we use the length of the highway as a surrogate.” Therefore, it does not account for differences in population density in cities versus rural roads.
It does not, for example, specify the differences in data in downtown Phoenix from Pinal County.
ValuePenguin published the report earlier this month, deeming I-10 the fourth deadliest highway in the country based on fatal crashes per 100 miles of road.
For I-10, a 2,460-mile highway, that means 54.5 fatal accidents per 100 miles. New Orleans was named the deadliest city on that interstate with 89 fatal crashes.
“The 10” falls behind State Route 99 in California, I-45 in Texas and I-95 from Florida to Maine, respectively, and I-75 from Florida to Michigan follows I-10 in the top five.
In the past five years, I-10 had the most fatal accidents — 1,342, to be exact — of any other highway. About 20 percent of them occurred in Arizona, making the Grand Canyon State the second-deadliest state along the I-10.
Behind SR-99, I-10 is the second darkest highway in the nation. Within the time frame, 472 fatal accidents occurred in poorly lit or unlit areas on the highway, bringing the rate to 19.2 fatal accidents per 100 miles in that particular category.
According to the ValuePenguin report, the highways with the greatest amount of areas with no lighting available were commonly found in the South and the West regions of the country.
Interstate 10 ranked fourth in the drunk driver category, with 310 total fatal accidents involving a drunk driver and a rate of 12.6 fatal accidents per 100 miles.
I-10 did not rank in the top five deadly highways when factoring in weather, though it appeared researchers only accounted for snow and rain specifically, leaving out other weather conditions like fog or desert dust storms.
But other departments and agencies aren’t letting that factor fall by the wayside.
The Arizona Department of Transportation issued a report Oct. 12 stating that this month, ADOT engineers are beginning design work on a $12.8 million dust detection and warning system, which would “in part” be funded by a $54 million federal grant specifically for I-10 projects, including widening I-10 on multiple stretches between Casa Grande and Tucson.
“Installation of the state-of-the-art dust-detection system is expected to begin by late next summer between milepost 209 near Eloy and milepost 219 near Picacho Peak, and the system could be in operation by fall 2018 or early 2019,” according to the press release.
ADOT expects similar sensors to be used in other dusty areas, such as I-10 in western and southeastern Arizona and along I-40 in northern Arizona, depending on the use and evaluation of the system planned.
“While this detection and warning system will be a great step forward,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said in the release, “no amount of technology will replace common sense when it comes to driving in adverse conditions such as blowing dust.”