If you live in Arizona, or plan on driving through Arizona, slow down and drive defensively. The state saw a nearly 10 percent increase in traffic related fatalities last year prompting some to warn that the trend will continue to grow as the population continues to surge forward.

Arizona is already one of the most densely populated states (in urban areas) and sees more than its fair share of newcomers each year. New homes continue to spring up, despite a sluggish housing market and depressed economy, and all of these factors is putting pressure on police and traffic safety experts to find solutions which will reverse this new trend.

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the increase in traffic fatalities the state saw in 2011 was the first such increase in five years. Almost 900 people died on Arizona roads last year in a variety of different types of crashes, almost all of which could have been prevented through safe driving habits.

The “2011 Crash Facts” report shows 825 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes on highways and local roads in the state last year, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. Compared to the 759 fatalities in 2010, last year’s figure marks an 8.7 percent increase in motor vehicle crash deaths….In 2011, 132 motorcycle riders and passengers were killed in 130 fatal motorcycle crashes compared to 85 such deaths in 2010, an increase of 55 percent.