Road safety affects everyone from road trip junkies to conservative commuters. Over the past few years, the concern for driver safety has risen. Despite fewer vehicle miles traveled during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 38,824 traffic fatalities in 2020—the highest number since 2007.
Now, as businesses and travel destinations have reopened, organizations focus on traffic data to better understand why highway fatalities are increasing and how drivers can protect themselves and their loved ones. Here are some basic Arizona road safety stats, facts, and tips to help keep you and your passengers safe.
Arizona Road Safety Stats
According to early reports from the National Highway Traffic Administration, an estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2021. This represents a 10.5 percent increase from 2020, the largest annual percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
How do statistics from Arizona match up against the nationwide data? The following information comes from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Historical Crash Data
Below is the crash data in Arizona over the past seven years, organized by crash severity.
Crashes Involving Injury
2017: 37, 823
Last year’s total crashes and crashes involving injury remained lower than previous levels since 2015. However, traffic fatalities reached the highest single-year total in 15 years.
2021 Crash Statistics
The number of crashes per month in 2021 increased as the year went on, with October being the peak month. The following statistics come from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
- Approximately 3.23 people died each day in a traffic accident, or one person every seven hours and twenty-five minutes.
- There were 141 injuries every day.
- Over 15 percent of all pedestrian crashes were fatal.
- 69.8 percent of all crashes occurred during the day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
- Motor vehicle crashes caused $20.156 billion in economic losses in Arizona.
- Alcohol was involved in 4.6 percent of all crashes and 20.3 percent of fatal crashes.
- The peak hour for fatal crashes was between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
- The peak hour for alcohol-related crashes was between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m.
2021 Fatal Crashes by Category
Fatalities and crashes are generally the results of poor driving behavior. The data below show the number of fatalities in 2021 by category.
- Total fatalities: 1,180
- Alcohol-related crashes: 243
- Urban crashes: 756
- Rural crashes: 424
- Speed-related crashes: 359
- Lane departure crashes: 753
- Not using a safety device: 366
- Drivers: 664
- Passengers: 214
- Pedestrians: 257
- Pedalcyclists: 45
Speed, impairment, and not wearing a seat belt were major factors in 2021 fatalities. Unfortunately, state agencies cannot reduce crashes and fatalities on their own. More than 66 percent of crashes occur on roads other than Arizona state highways, so any significant change must start with drivers.
Arizona Road Safety Facts and Tips
Knowing how to drive safely in specific conditions can help you avoid a potentially dangerous accident. Though we specifically focused on data gathered in Arizona, you can apply many of the following tips to driving in any state.
Seat Belt Usage
Properly using a seat belt is the most effective way to stay safe in a vehicle. Seat belts save an estimated 9,500 lives every year, yet roughly 30 percent of vehicle occupants remain unbuckled. Unfortunately, many people who don’t buckle up are more afraid of a citation or fine than being involved in a fatal car accident. They don’t understand the severity of the consequences, so preventable fatalities occur every day.
Of the 23,824 traffic fatalities in 2020, 51 percent were not wearing seat belts. Some drivers mistakenly think an airbag is enough to protect them in an accident. However, the force of an airbag could injure or kill you if you aren’t buckled in. Using a seat belt in the front seat of a car reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
Safe Road Trips
A successful road trip always starts with a good plan. Follow the tips below any time you travel to or through Arizona.
- Plan your route. You may want to take different roads based on the season, construction work, or landmarks along the way.
- Do a safety inspection before leaving. Check your tire pressure, belts, and fluid levels. Your car should be in the best possible condition before you take a long trip.
- Take breaks if you feel fatigued or need to stretch or use the bathroom.
- Avoid parking on dry gas or driving through tall grass if you need to pull off the road. A hot engine could spark a fire, so stay in designated driving and parking areas.
- Expect the unexpected. Bad weather, delays, heavy traffic, or accidents may put you behind schedule, so plan accordingly.
- Bring an emergency kit. Make sure to include a road map, first aid kit, food, and water in case your car breaks down far away from help.
Arizona has long stretches of desert roads with miles between cities. With summer temperatures that average a high of 107℉, you should always keep extra water and essentials in your vehicle.
Using a device while driving in Arizona is illegal unless it is in hands-free mode. This includes cell phones, tablets, music players, and gaming devices. Drivers are permitted to use hands-free devices and GPS navigation, or make emergency 911 calls.
Distracted driving caused over 3,000 deaths in the US in 2020. Common distractions include handheld devices, food, drinks, changing the radio, or anything that takes your attention away from the road. Even short distractions are dangerous. Taking your eyes off the road for five seconds at 55 MPH is like driving the entire length of a football field with your eyes closed.
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