The annual Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) report just released June 1, 2016 shows that motor vehicle deaths in the state for 2015 increased to 895 deaths occurring on the same roadways as the previous year. This is an increase of almost 16 percent in just one year. The annual ADOT Motor Vehicle Crash Facts Report is the government organization’s comprehensive barometer of driving conditions in the state, as well as a gauge regarding driver behavior and road quality.
Although the rise in auto accident deaths from 2014 to 2015 is a negative turn for drivers and passengers navigating Arizona’s roadways, the number is not as high as some years in the past. 2006 was a particularly bad year for those driving in the state. In that year, 1,301 people were tragically killed in motor vehicle crashes. Of course, no one wants to see the state’s fatalities return to such a high rate.
To aid in clarification of accident causes and thus to help prevent future accidents, the Motor Vehicle Crash Facts report highlights the patterns of the year’s accidents and where drivers and their passengers are failing to observe “safety first.” Bad driver behavior is very often the root cause of fatal accidents.
Some statistics from 2015 include:
All of these statistics are related to 116,609 car crashes occurring in Arizona in 2015. Like fatalities, the overall number of accidents and injuries rose in the past year. There were only 109,664 accidents in 2014. 2015 led to 53,554 injuries suffered from the year’s accidents, whereas 2014 injuries were only at 50,988 for that year.
(Image courtesy of ADOT Crash Facts PDF)
While automobiles are clearly the biggest problem contributing to traffic accident deaths, motorcycle riders are also causing more deaths on the roadways. The 134 motorcycle accident fatalities in Arizona in 2015 increased from 128 in the prior year.
Bicyclists were involved in fatal accidents on roads in 2015, although this is one area where fatalities did not increase and the total number of crashes improved. 29 people riding bikes died in accidents in 2015, the exact same number as those in 2014. There were only 1,434 bike-auto accidents in 2015, fewer than the 2014 figure of 1,744.
People walking along roads or crossing streets are often victimized in auto accidents. Only 155 people died this way in 2014, but 161 pedestrians were fatally injured in 2015. This is an increase despite remarkably fewer crashes involving pedestrians in 2015. In the prior year there were 1,565 pedestrian related auto crashes, a number that decreased to only 1,399 in 2015.
Many auto accidents occur each year in the United States. But in Arizona, the past year has resulted in a significant increase in auto accidents and deaths resulting from those catastrophic crashes. Although fault in such accidents may be quickly surmised on the scene of the crash, the reality is that many factors are involved in a catastrophic accident. Such accidents may be the result of any number of those factors or a combination of issues.
Some causes of auto accidents in Arizona include:
When involved in a car accident, many people do not know where to turn and struggle with understanding their rights when faced with major expenses from injuries and property damage. This is when having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side can help significantly in navigation of dealings with the insurance companies and others associated with the accident. Your first call after the accident should be to a personal injury law firm.
As mentioned above, there are many factors that can lead to an auto accident. But significant increases in statewide traffic deaths usually point to driver behaviors. The Motor Vehicle Crash Facts Report for 2015 spotlighted some driver behaviors behind the rise in accidents, injuries and fatalities during the past year. Those include:
Driving Under the Influence
One factor that causes many accidents, driving under the influence of alcohol, rose in 2015. This is disconcerting, as drivers had become more responsible behind the wheel with each passing year from 2011 to 2014. 2015 reversed this great trend.
4,941 alcohol related car accidents occurred in 2015, up from 4,906 the prior year. 295 people died in these DUI crashes in 2015. Only 269 died from the same cause in the prior year. As reported by the Department of Transportation, motor vehicle deaths in 2015 were attributed to 16.2 percent of drivers being under the influence of alcohol and 4.8 percent being under the influence of drugs.
(Image courtesy of ADOT Crash Facts PDF)
Speeding and Aggressive Driving
In 17 percent of fatal accidents in 2015, drivers were exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for conditions when their accident occurred. Motorcycle operators tend to neglect speed limits and driving conditions more often, with 38 percent of fatal motorcycle accidents attributed to excessive speed, aggressive driving or ignoring driving conditions in 2015.
Failure to Use Safety Devices
Safety devices like seat belts exist to keep people from experiencing injuries or death in an accident. But 313 people died in 2015 simply because they failed to use their seat belt or other safety mechanism. This is a tragic oversight on their part, one that killed fewer people in 2014 with only 266 deaths attributed to the same cause that year.
Some other eyebrow-raising statistics from the 2015 DOT report include:
(Image courtesy of ADOT Crash Facts PDF)
Experts from multiple professions in Arizona are concerned about the increase in traffic accident deaths in the past year. Some of those weighed in regarding the DOT’s report:
Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, said of the deaths related to DUI, “It’s tragic and frustrating to see increases in fatalities involving impaired driving,” said . “We’ll never stop efforts to get people to do the right thing, including arranging for a designated driver. And we’ll fully back law enforcement and their dedication to getting impaired drivers off the road.”
ADOT Director John Halikowski said of the statistics, “One death will always be too many, and there are things all drivers can do to reduce the number of crash deaths, starting with buckling up, obeying speed limits and reducing speed when conditions warrant.”
He continued by saying, “When you are behind the wheel, job number one is driving – not looking at your phone, not reading, not personal grooming, not anything that takes your attention away from the road. It is dangerous and disrespectful for everyone sharing the road with you. Just drive!”
On the subject of excessive speed, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Frank Milstead said, “Without a doubt, the number of crash fatalities would be dramatically reduced if more drivers would slow down and obey speed limits. Our troopers are focused on stopping aggressive speeders. Changing bad driving behaviors is a key to highway safety.”
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ chimed in regarding safety device use by saying, “Accidents happen when we least expect [them]. These numbers show how important it is to make sure you and all your passengers are buckled in properly to reduce the risk of serious injury or worse.”
Working to ensure safety on the roads is job one for the Arizona DOT and its partners through the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Plan. This plan specifies means of reducing fatalities and serious injuries from auto vehicle accidents in the state. Particular areas of focus include:
If you or someone you love have been injured or killed in an auto vehicle accident in Arizona, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through your claim for associated expenses, injuries and property damage. Call 602-691-7278 now for a free, no-obligation consultation with the Arizona Personal Injury Law Firm of Hirsch & Lyon Accident Law.
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