The Arizona Department of Transportation (AZDOT) recently published their annual “Motor Vehicle Crash Facts” report, with statistics for traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities for 2020. The data reveals some illuminating information as to the types of accidents that occurred statewide, the causes of the accidents, and the consequences of those accidents.
According to AZDOT, there were 98,778 vehicle accidents in 2020, with 28,610 of the accidents causing serious injuries. Approximately 85,000 crashes occurred in urban areas, and 13,534 of the accidents occurred in rural areas. Pedestrians were involved in 1,523 accidents, and 830 accidents involved a pedalcycle (bicycle). There were 2,317 motorcycle accidents. Over 80,000 accidents involved multiple vehicles, and 17,766 accidents were single-vehicle accidents. Finally, motor vehicle crashes in Arizona caused more than $17 billion in economic losses.
A few key observations from the data:
- Alcohol-related accidents. The statistics from AZDOT showed that 2020 had the highest percentage of alcohol-related accidents in the last five years. More than 4,500 accidents involved drunk driving, and 181 people were killed. Almost 2,900 people were injured.
- Fatal accidents. There were 970 fatal accidents in Arizona in 2020, leading to the death of 1,057 people. Nearly 2.89 people were killed each day. More than 15% of all pedestrian accidents were fatal. Nearly 4% of bicycle accidents were fatal.
- Some of the peak data. The worst month for vehicle accidents was January. The worst day was Friday, and the worst hour was between 4 pm and 5 pm.
- Maricopa County and Phoenix. There were 71,611 vehicle accidents in Maricopa County – more than twice the number of crashes in all other Arizona counties combined. There were 460 fatal accidents and nearly 20,000 accidents that caused injuries in Maricopa County. There were more than 35,000 crashes in Phoenix, about half the total of crashes for the county. 220 people died in vehicle accidents in Phoenix in 2020.
- The first event after impact. Most Arizona vehicle accidents involved an impact with another vehicle. The next top two categories were collisions with fixed objects and then collisions with non-fixed objects. The next three categories were overturning, collisions with animals, and collisions with pedestrians.
For multiple vehicle crashes, the type of collision was a factor:
- Nearly 40% were rear-end collision accidents.
- More than 17% were left-turn accidents.
- More than 16% were sideswipe accidents (both cars traveling in the same direction)
- Nearly 16% were “angle” accidents.
- 1,681 (about 2%) were head-on crashes.
More than 67,000 accidents happened during daylight. More than 20,000 happened where there was lighting reported. 5,913 happened where no lighting was reported. The remaining multi-vehicle accidents happened during dawn, dusk, or unknown conditions.
The main weather conditions that contributed to vehicle accidents in Arizona in 2020 were clouds (more than 6,000 crashes), rain (2,509 crashes), and snow (178 crashes). Other dangerous weather conditions included sleet, sand, oil, dirt, fog, smoke, smog, and sleet.
Where road conditions were known, 176,420 accidents happened on level grade, 5,680 accidents happened on downhill grades, and 4,801 accidents happened on uphill grades.
Other types of multi-vehicle accidents included U-turns, sideswipes (where cars were going in the opposite direction), and other causes.
Safety device usage data
There are different findings regarding safety devices (such as seat belts, car seats, and booster seats) depending on the age and status (driver or passenger) of accident victims:
Children under five
- When a safety device was used, 6,401 did not suffer an injury. 351 may have had some type of injury. 19 are believed to have had a serious injury. Four young children died. More than 90% of children who were wearing a safety device did not have an injury. In total, 7,087 accidents for children under 5 involved children who were wearing a safety device.
- When a safety device was not used (just 114 cases total), 67 did not have an injury (about 60%). Nearly 15% had a possible injury. Eight had a serious injury. One child died.
- A safety device was used. 83% of the 158,000+ accidents resulted in no injuries.
- 1,118 had a serious injury.
- 234 had fatal injuries.
- A safety device was not used.6% of the 3,198 who were not wearing a safety device suffered no injury.
- 452 had a serious injury.
- 237 had fatal injuries.
- A safety device was used. Of the 56,502 Arizona vehicle accidents where a passenger used a safety device, 84% suffered no injuries.
- 364 had severe injuries.
- 53 had fatal injuries.
- A safety device was not used. Of the 1,833 accidents where a passenger did not use a safety device, only 47% had no injury.
- 193 had serious injuries.
- 76 had fatal injuries.
The good news is that most young children, drivers, and passengers did use a safety device. The data clearly shows that the likelihood of an injury, severe injury, or death is much greater when anyone does not use a safety device.
Motor crash data by vehicle type
Over 91,000 Arizona vehicle accidents in 2020 involved a passenger car. The data for other vehicles is as follows:
- Station wagons: More than 38,600
- Pickup trucks: More than 27,400
- Vans: 3,772
- Truck tractor (with or without a trailer): 1,481
- Motorcycles: 2,373
Other major categories include buses, recreational vehicles, dump trucks, and many other types of trucks and vehicles.
Fifty-five percent of the crashes involved men, and 37 percent involved women. The gender of the remaining accident cases is unknown. Nearly 70 percent of the drivers had an Arizona driver’s license. The other drivers were from out of state.
The causes of Arizona accidents
The major causes of Arizona vehicle accidents in 2020 were:
- Driving too fast for conditions: 15.28%
- Failure to yield the right of way: 8.76%
- Unsafe lane change: 3.43%.
- Following too closely: 2.95%
- Failure to stay in the proper lane: 2.79%
- Disregarding a traffic signal: 2.53%
- An improper turn: 1.94%
- Exceeding the speed limit: 0.53%
There were several other causes such as improper passing, crossing a median, aggressive driving, wrong-way driving, and running a stop sign. In 49% of all accidents, however, no “improper action” was listed.
At Plattner Verderame, P.C., we handle all types of car accident cases – whether they happen on urban roads or rural roads, daytime or nighttime, in good weather or bad weather. We represent accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. We represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders. If you were involved in any type of accident, call our personal injury lawyers at 602.266.2002 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment at our Phoenix or Tempe office.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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