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Arizona’s Roads Are Deadlier Than Ever

Arizona’s Roads Are Deadlier Than EverArizona’s roads are like a mirage. The scenic beauty can make you forget how dangerous the roads are. The Arizona Department of Transportation recently released its report for motor vehicle crash facts in 2021. The statistics were alarming. Car crash fatalities have reached heights that haven’t been reached since 2006.

According to AZDOT’s report, there were 1,180 traffic fatalities in 2021; in 2006, there were 1,301. Fatalities remained under 1000 every single year until 2018, and then they spiked again in 2020. In fact, there was a nearly 12% increase in fatal accidents between 2020 and 2021.

Maricopa County in particular saw a jump in traffic fatalities, too. In 2020, there were 491 deaths caused by traffic accidents. In 2021, that number rose to 594 – an almost 21% increase in road deaths. According to AZDOT, “Crashes in Maricopa County accounted for 71.44% of all crashes [statewide] and 51.36% of fatal crashes.”

Fast facts about fatal crashes in Arizona

AZDOT offered a quick breakdown of its findings:

  • Approximately 3.23 persons were killed each day.
  • One person was killed every 7 hours and 25 minutes.
  • There were 141 persons injured every day.
  • One person was injured every 10 minutes and 11 seconds.
  • Alcohol Related crashes accounted for 4.63% of all crashes and 20.23% of all fatal crashes.
  • Single vehicle crashes accounted for 17.16% of all crashes and 29.26% of all fatal crashes.
  • Of all Pedestrian crashes, 15.05% were fatal while 4.38% of Pedalcycle crashes were fatal.
  • Children age 14 and younger accounted for 32 fatalities and 2,861 injuries in motor vehicle crashes.

There’s a lot to extrapolate from the data. One especially interesting note is that while alcohol played a role in just under 5% of all accidents in 2021 (5,620 in total), it contributed to more than one out of every five road deaths. The data also shows that most fatal accidents happened on urban roads (709), and more fatal crashes involved multiple vehicles (752) than single vehicles (311). It also shows that more people who weren’t wearing seatbelts died than those who were properly restrained (266 vs. 296, respectively).

The overall question, of course, is why: why did the number of fatal accidents jump so high over the last couple of years, especially after a decade of lower numbers?

The remnants of pandemic driving are making roads more dangerous

Every newspaper in the country, it seems, reported that deaths and injuries on the roads increased between 2020 and 2021. People drove faster, drunker, and more recklessly, according to the Washington Post. The people who were out on the roads tended to be younger and male, and more willing to take risks. Arizona’s data reflects that, too. More male drivers (in every age group) than female drivers died on the roads, though the age range with the highest number of deaths and injuries was 25-34, slightly older than what one might assume.

All of this is to say that some (bad) habits die hard, and people still appear to be driving as though the roads were as empty as they were in the throes of the pandemic.

For the record, they also seem to be drinking more than ever, which may account for the increased risk of drunk driving crashes across the country.

The roads themselves may contribute to the problem

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that nationally, “roadway fatalities and the fatality rate declined consistently for 30 years, but progress has stalled over the last decade and went in the wrong direction in 2020.” As we discussed, the pandemic had a huge impact on our driving habits. But blaming the pandemic for EVERYTHING cannot be accurate, especially because the Governor lifted all restrictions on AZ businesses in May 2021 – yet we continued to drive dangerously.

One reason for this may be the roads themselves. A study out of Ohio State University found that urban roads which look like highways actually cause us to drive less safely: “Findings showed street segments that were classified as ‘open roads’ – those where the photos showed more visible sky, more roadway and more signs – had 48% more crashes that caused injury or death than those classified as ‘open residential.’”

We have a lot of “open roads” in Arizona. Just look at this section of 31st Ave.:

You can clearly see it’s a residential area, based on the homes and sidewalks. What you cannot see (even if you keep hitting the arrow in Google Earth) is a speed limit sign, or a traffic signal, for a significantly long time. Though this road has a 25 mph limit, the design of it passively encourages speeding.

Can I file a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident in Phoenix?

If your loved one was killed in a fatal car accident, you might have the opportunity to file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are claims made by the surviving family members of victims killed in accidents. In a Phoenix fatal car accident, your family may be able to sue the at-fault driver for their carelessness.

Wrongful death claims are often confused with more criminal charges like murder. Because wrongful death is a civil claim, there will be no criminal penalties. Instead, your family would be able to sue for financial compensation.

Damages from wrongful death claims

In a wrongful death claim, your family could sue for the same damages your loved one would have been entitled to. This includes medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.

In addition to these damages, you could sue for others, like loss of companionship, funeral or cremation expenses, and loss of inheritance.

Who can file a wrongful death claim?

The following family members can file wrongful death claims include:

  • Children who were dependent on their loved one can sue for wrongful death.
  • If your loved one was married at the time of their death, the spouse could sue on their behalf.
  • If your loved one wasn’t married or had children, their parents would be able to sue.
  • Personal representative. A personal representative can also file on behalf of the spouse, parent, child, or estate.

To help hold the at-fault driver responsible, you should reach out to a Phoenix wrongful death lawyer from Plattner Verderame, P.C. Richard Plattner and Frank Verderame are Certified Specialists in Wrongful Death. Our wrongful death lawyers understand how devastating this situation is for you. We want to help relieve your family’s stress by holding the liable parties responsible. Call one of our offices in Phoenix and Tempe or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.