Car accidents have been a problem since cars first hit our country’s roads, but recently they have almost become an expected consequence of modern life — and the pandemic might have had something to do with it.
Data from the Government Accountability Office and other studies have shown that traffic fatalities increased during the pandemic despite lockdowns compelling many people to stay off the roads. Researchers aren’t sure why this increase happened, but they suspect that fewer cars on the road led to more drivers speeding — resulting in greater numbers of fatalities.
Being in an accident is a traumatic experience, and many people are prone to blaming themselves when things go wrong. Given the high car accident rate, it’s important not to feel guilty about the situation if you end up in an accident. Even if you feel the facts of the situation show that you’re at fault, it’s important to remind yourself that people make mistakes and we’re all capable of redemption.
National Car Accident Statistics
There’s a lot of doom and gloom when it comes to talking about car accident statistics. So, let’s start off with a little bit of happy news. According to data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 99.5% of the 6.7 million crashes that occurred in 2018 were nonfatal. Given how common car accidents are, that’s a pretty reassuring number. NHTSA data also revealed that only property damage occurred in 71% of accidents.
After those numbers, the statistics start to paint a picture that looks a little more grim. NHTSA data indicates that 28% of all crashes in 2018 resulted in personal injury. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that there were 2.1 million visits to the emergency room in 2020 related to traffic accidents, and that same year, 41,000 people died in car crashes across the country.
Arizona-Specific Car Accident Statistics
Of course, the driving environment in Arizona is pretty unique compared to the rest of the country. As a result, our car accident statistics tend to be quite different from those for the entire country. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) is in charge of keeping track of the car accident rate and other car accident statistics for the entire state, and the latest ADOT reveals the following:
- The car accident rate for Arizona for 2022 was about 32 accidents per day, resulting in almost 1,300 fatalities and more than 52,000 injuries
- Rear-end collisions were the most common type of accident, followed by angled collisions and head-on collisions
- Young drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 were the most likely to be in a fatal crash
- Alcohol was a factor in more than 4.5% of all crashes and more than 17% of fatal crashes
- Pedestrians and bicyclists comprised 16% and 4% of all fatalities, respectively
Expressing concern about the number of traffic fatalities in the state, former governor Doug Ducey called for increased enforcement of traffic laws and a focus on educating drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and speeding. The ADOT has also launched initiatives meant to lower vehicle collisions and traffic fatalities. Its Toward Zero Deaths program has the lofty goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in the state by 2050.
Factors Leading to Increased Accidents
In addition to indicating that alcohol is a major factor in car crashes, state data also revealed different types of violations that occurred during the course of an accident. Slightly less than one-half of all vehicle collisions for 2022 did not involve a violation or improper action. For accidents that did involve some type of improper behavior, excessive speed was by far a leading factor related to vehicle collisions, followed by failure to yield right-of-way. Other top factors included:
- An unsafe lane change (3.9%)
- Following too closely (2.9%)
- Failure to remain in the proper lane (2.7%)
- Disregarding a traffic signal (2.4%)
- Making an improper turn (1.9%)
The state has taken steps to address the leading causes of vehicle collisions and car accidents in general. Specifically, Arizona has passed laws outlining harsh penalties for those found guilty of drunk driving, including mandatory jail time. The state’s distracted driving laws also went into effect in 2021, making it illegal to use a smartphone while driving without hands-free technology.
What To Do in the Event of a Car Accident
Because car accidents in Arizona are so common, it’s a good idea to know what to do if this unfortunate situation happens to you.
Your first priority ought to be the safety of yourself and anyone else who may have been affected by the accident. Check yourself for injuries and try to be conscious of the fact that you might be in shock. If you think you have a serious injury, call 911.
If you are completely certain that your own health isn’t at risk, consider helping anyone else who looks seriously injured or in danger. If the immediate threats to your life and those around you have passed, get to a safe location as quickly as you can. If possible, switch on your car’s hazard light to alert other drivers to the accident.
Once you feel safe, contact the police and report the incident, even if it seems like a minor accident with minimal damage to your bumper or side panels. The police can help you document the situation in the event it turns out to be more serious than it initially appeared.
Get the names, contact information, insurance information, and license plate numbers of the people involved in the accident. Use your smartphone to take photos and videos of the scene. Try to capture images of the road conditions, vehicle damage, property damage, your own injuries, and any other details that feel relevant to the accident.
When talking with other people at the scene, it’s important not to admit fault. An admission of guilt could be used against you, go to a court of law, and it could later be revealed that circumstances outside your control led to the accident taking place, not your actions. Also, don’t post about the accident on social media. Simply put, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you were in a minor accident and think you may have suffered minor injuries, you might want to seek non-emergency medical attention. Medical professionals can make sure that any hidden injuries don’t stay hidden.
Finally, you should contact your insurance company about the accident. Simply provide the objective facts about the accident and follow any instructions about what to do next. It might seem like the insurance company is on your side, but these companies are motivated to minimize payouts, and you should take that under consideration.
Every car accident is different, and these situations are rarely straightforward. If you think your rights are being ignored or violated, you should contact a car accident lawyer. Arizona laws give you the right to pursue compensation for any damages you’ve suffered, from medical bills to lasting injuries to PTSD.
How Can Gerber Injury Law Help You?
Physical injuries are the most visible results of common car accidents, but they aren’t the only impact. Even a minor car crash can lead to large medical bills, lost income, and lasting pain.
At Gerber Injury Law, our attorneys are very experienced when it comes to handling all different kinds of car accidents and their impacts on people. We know how common car accidents that seem run-of-the-mill can turn out to be life-altering events.
If you have recently been in a car crash or lost a loved one in an accident, contact us online or call 623-426-8300 to set up a free consultation.