Urban Arizona Seeing Increased Risk of Traffic Accidents

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The Arizona Crash Facts report, produced annually by the Arizona Department of Transportation, has been released, revealing a mixture of good and bad news.

Our Mesa car accident attorneys understand that among the key findings comparing 2012 statistics from those a year earlier:

  • The total number of crashes was down by about half a percent, as were the total number of fatalities;
  • The number of injuries remained about the same, from 49,710 in 2011 to 49,680 in 2012;
  • Alcohol-related fatalities dropped by more than 2 percent, but alcohol-related injuries increased by 1 percent;
  • Fatalities in urban areas jumped by more than 2.5 percent, while rural crash fatalities fell by more than 3 percent;
  • Motorcycle operator and passenger fatalities soared by 5.3 percent and injuries for the same group climbed by more than 6 percent;
  • Pedestrian fatalities fell by 14 percent, but pedestrian injuries spiked by nearly 7 percent;
  • Bicyclist fatalities fell by nearly 22 percent, but bicyclist injuries increased by nearly 7 percent.

Throughout last year, there were between 2 and 3 people killed on average on Arizona’s roadways every single day. There were 136 people injured daily in traffic collisions.

Alcohol was a factor in about 5 percent of the total number of crashes, but in more than a third of all fatal wrecks.

Throughout the year, the economic toll of motor vehicle crashes in Arizona was nearly $3 billion, when factoring in property damage, lost wages, medical costs and deaths.

Maricopa County shoulders an enormous portion of this burden – some $1.6 billion, according to the report. That includes nearly $500 million for fatalities and $715 million for injuries. The county that shouldered the second-highest burden was Pima, with an estimated $357 million annual toll.

Each fatality costs about $1.4 million, while each incapacitating injury incident costs about $72,000. Even crashes that only result in property damage cost, on average, about $9,300.

The total number of crashes in Maricopa County far outnumbered those in other areas of the state. There were nearly 72,000 crashes total in the county lats year. Of those, 315 were fatal, resulting in 339 deaths, and nearly 22,300 resulted in some type of injury, with more than 34,000 total injuries reported.

Phoenix had the highest number of crashes (nearly 31,000), followed by Tempe (7,100), Mesa (6,400), Scottsdale (4,000) and Chandler (3,900).

It’s also worth noting that Arizona has a higher-than-average fatality rate when compared to vehicle miles traveled. That’s remained consistent since 2008. We know that in 2012, while the fatality rate in the U.S. was 1.1 percent, it was 1.39 percent in Arizona.

The majority of vehicles involved in Arizona wrecks were cars and SUVs (about 70 percent), followed by pick-up trucks and vans (17.5 percent), trucks and buses (6.3 percent), motorcycles (1.7 percent) and all other vehicles (4.7 percent).

The report doesn’t delve into specifically why motorcycle wrecks are up so significantly or why urban crashes are up while the number of rural collisions declined. Here’s what we do know about the driver violations that resulted in the majority of crashes:

  • Speed was a factor in more than 17 percent of all crashes. That includes not only exceeding the lawful speed but traveling too fast for road conditions.
  • Distraction or inattention was cited in nearly 7 percent of cases, with electronic communications devices were definitively identified as a factor in 0.10 percent.
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way was a factor in 5.1 percent of all crashes.
  • Following too closely was a factor in nearly 3 percent of all crashes.
  • Disregard for a traffic signal was cited in another 3 percent of all wrecks, as was improper turning and unsafe lane changes.

Clearly, while there was some good news to report, we still have a long ways to go before we can say Arizona roads are safe.

If you have been injured, contact our Mesa personal injury attorneys at (480) 833-1113.

Additional Resources:

Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2012, Released May 30, 2013, Arizona Department of Transportation

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