Most Common Causes of Car Accidents

There were nearly 120,000 car crashes in Arizona in 2022, according to state data. Unfortunately, almost 36,000 crashes resulted in injury, and 1,178 crashes were fatal.

Given the very serious and very personal effects of a car crash, it’s important to understand some of their most common causes. Understanding car accidents helps us to prevent them, and it also helps us when it comes to holding negligent parties responsible.

Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) data shows that three of the most common causes of car accidents are speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving. In 2022, nearly 35,000 crashes were caused by driving too fast, almost 9,000 crashes were caused by distracted driving, and nearly 5,500 accidents were alcohol-related crashes.

To their credit, state officials aren’t ignoring these numbers. Expressing concern for the high number of accidents, former governor Doug Ducey called for stricter enforcement of traffic laws and more educational campaigns on the dangers of both speeding and distracted driving. The ADOT has also launched several initiatives focused on addressing the most common causes of car accidents. The department’s Toward Zero Deaths program has the ambitious goal of eliminating all traffic deaths in Arizona by 2050.

With safety and responsibility in mind, let’s take a quick look at three big causes of car accidents in Arizona.

Distracted Driving

Remember when you first started learning how to drive? Your eyes were constantly scanning the road for other cars, pedestrians, potholes, and anything else that you might hit or that might hit you. But after being really cautious for the first few months and weeks, you probably got very comfortable behind the wheel. Maybe you even got bored with the idea of driving the car. But once boredom sets in, we set ourselves up to be distracted while driving.

According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, about 80% of cell phone users in the US admit to checking their phones while driving. Even though so many of us are doing it, many of us are also worried about other people being distracted while driving. A 2019 survey of young adults said distracted driving was one of their top five concerns when it came to their well-being.

Perhaps because we can’t protect ourselves from ourselves, the state government has stepped in and passed laws designed to crack down on distracted driving.

Effective starting in 2021, the Hands-Off Law made it illegal to talk, text, check social media, or otherwise use a cell phone while driving unless it is being used in a hands-free mode. To be clear, the law didn’t completely prohibit the use of cell phone technology. You are still able to use navigation apps, talk on a call using a wearable or hands-free device, use voice interactions such as talk-to-text, and swipe a phone screen to accept or make a call. You can also use your phone if you are stopped at a traffic light.

If you violate this law for the first time, you are subject to a fine ranging between $75 and $149. Each subsequent violation carries a fine ranging between $150 and $250.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents, and the connection between the two might seem obvious. But it helps to understand just how irresponsible it is to speed.

When you drive too fast, you are giving your brain and body less time to react to what’s happening around you. It also takes longer for your car to come to a full stop the faster you travel. Even if you are able to react in time, you may not be able to stop your car from hitting something because of braking distance. Research tends to show that the risk of a crash increases exponentially as speed increases. There’s also a strong connection between speeding and the severity of a car crash.

Most of us speed and drive recklessly to get to our destination faster. But the irony is, you really don’t save much time by driving faster than the speed limit. For example, if the speed limit is 50 miles an hour and you have to travel 15 miles, going 60 mph only saves you 3 minutes. When you consider the increased risk of an accident, not to mention lower gas mileage, is it really worth saving such little time?

It’s also important to point out that the long highways and wide roads found all over Arizona tend to encourage speeding. Even if you drive responsibly, you should constantly be on the lookout for other drivers who are speeding because it is one of the most common causes of car accidents.

Impaired Driving

Because they happened needlessly, alcohol-related crashes are some of the most tragic types of car accidents. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down your reaction time and lowers your ability to perceive what’s around you. Because it lowers your inhibitions, alcohol also compels you to take more risks while driving.

According to research, the risk of a deadly crash increases significantly for people with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) higher than 0.05%, and the risk increases even more dramatically with BACs greater than 0.08%. Because of this, just about every state makes it a crime to drive with a BAC above 0.08%.

Sadly, Arizona regularly ranks in the top half of states for alcohol-related crashes in terms of fatalities. Even though Arizona has tough penalties for DUI, people in our state die in alcohol-related crashes at a higher rate than the national average.

Environmental Factors

Even though our roads don’t take the same wear and tear as roads in northern states, where snowplows chew up asphalt every winter, Arizona is among some of the worst states when it comes to road conditions. In one analysis by AZ Big Media, Arizona was ranked 15th worst in the nation, with 21% of its roads in “non-acceptable” condition. Another study by the Reason Foundation ranked Arizona 23rd in the nation for road conditions and maintenance costs to taxpayers. That study also rated Arizona 37th for rural pavement condition.

Poor road conditions are some of the most common causes of car actions because they make it more difficult to control your car when traveling at speed. Bad conditions also cause more damage to a car’s tires and suspension, increasing the risk of a dangerous breakdown or blowout.

Another factor related to bad environmental conditions is increased construction. Having to drive through a work zone is one of the most common causes of car accidents. This is likely because of all the unusual and unexpected things that drivers can encounter, such as heavy construction vehicles sharing the road or construction workers unexpectedly walking into the roadway.

Gerber Injury Law’s Attorneys Can Help with Your Case

At Gerber Injury Law, we’ve seen a lot of Arizona car accidents. We’ve seen people hurt by distracted driving and speeding. Our Phoenix DUI accident lawyers know how to deal with alcohol-related crashes. Our company is a family-first firm that fights to hold negligent parties accountable.

If you have recently been in a car accident or if a family member was recently killed in a car accident, Contact us today or call 623-486-8300 to speak with a sympathetic attorney who understands your situation and is willing to fight for you.

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