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What Factors Caused Arizona Crashes in 2021?

Posted on April 4, 2023 in

Vehicle accidents are devastating to residents and visitors in Arizona. They often lead to significant people and property damage expenses, and this inevitably impacts the entire economy of our area. It is crucial to examine the main factors that caused vehicle accidents in 2021. That year, there were more than 121,000 collisions reported across the state. Unfortunately, 1,180 individuals lost their lives as a result of these collisions, and more than 51,000 individuals sustained injuries.

Only by studying common causes of incidents can we, as drivers and responsible citizens, take the first steps toward enhancing roadway safety. 

First Harmful Events in Arizona Car Crashes, 2021

When a vehicle accident occurs, there is often a chain reaction of events that leads to multiple collisions. However, the Arizona Department of Transportation lists the first harmful event type that occurs. This means that the record will indicate what initially started the collision, which is how liability is determined.

In 2021, the most common “first harmful events” that caused vehicle accidents included the following:

  • Collision with a motor vehicle and transport, which is just another way of saying that a collision happened between two or more vehicles.
  • Collision with a fixed object, which can include poles, trees, buildings, etc.
  • Collisions with a non-fixed object, which includes parked vehicles, trains, railway vehicles, work zone equipment, etc.
  • Overturning of the vehicle, which as a first harmful event, typically includes over-correction on the part of the driver. 
  • Collision with a pedestrian.
  • Collision with a bicyclist.
  • Collision with an animal.
  • Vehicle fire or explosion.
  • Some type of non-collision, which can include a jackknife incident, cargo loss or cargo shifting, or vehicle immersion in water.

Unfortunately, first harmful events often lead to secondary harmful events surrounding the initial impact. For example, an individual can this could lead to other vehicles striking one another or striking fixed objects. First harmful events should not be taken as the totality of the collision but should certainly be examined to determine liability for the overall incident.

How Many Collisions Occurred During Holidays in Arizona?

Collisions, particularly ones that lead to significant injuries or fatalities, often increase just before, during, and just after a holiday. The Arizona Department of Transportation specifically examines the following holidays, which we will include here with the number of individuals who lost their lives in collisions during those holidays in 2021:

  • New Year’s Day – 10 fatalities
  • Memorial Day – 14 fatalities
  • Independence Day – 10 fatalities
  • Labor Day – 14 fatalities
  • Thanksgiving – 18 fatalities
  • Christmas – 12 fatalities

Holidays are when individuals often engage in activities revolving around drinking or other substances. For most, holidays are a time to relax, but this relaxation often leads to roadway devastation. Alcohol is the number one reason that more injury crashes and fatal collisions occur in and around major holidays throughout Arizona.

What Types of Collisions Were Most Common in 2021?

If you have ever seen a vehicle crash diagram, often filled out as part of the police report, you will often see the crash being labeled in some way. For example, a crash may be labeled as a rear-end or head-on collision. The type of collision is important to record, and the Arizona DOT recorded the following number of each type of incident:

  • Angle – 15,621
  • Left turn – 17,690
  • Rear-end – 39,437
  • Head-on – 2,193
  • Sideswipe (same side) – 17,269 
  • Sideswipe (opposite side) – 1,660
  • U-turn – 504

Common Collision Types

The most common type of collision that occurred in Arizona during 2021 was rear-end collisions, and these incidents led to more than 11,000 injuries.

Did Lighting & Visibility Play a Role in Collisions?

The time of day can play a role in collisions, but the data that we want to show you now need to have some context. The vast majority of vehicle accidents that occurred across the state of Arizona in 2021 happened during daylight hours. This does not necessarily mean that the daylight is more dangerous – it simply means that more people are driving during that time frame. Here, we want to outline the time of day along with the total number of collisions recorded in 2021:

  • Daylight – 83,021
  • Dawn – 2,000
  • Dusk – 3,235
  • Dark but lighted – 24,894
  • Dark but not lighted – 7,012
  • Dark but unknown lighting – 423 

What Weather Conditions Lead to the Most Crashes?

Weather conditions, regardless of the type of day, can most certainly play a role in causing vehicle accidents or at least increasing the likelihood that an accident will occur. Again, there needs to be some context for this because the vast majority of the time throughout the year, individuals drive their vehicles when there are no adverse weather conditions at all. This simply comes down to a numbers game. More people just happen to be driving when the weather is nicer, so there are more collisions when the weather is clear.

  • Clear – 104,782
  • Cloudy – 10,061
  • Sleet/Hail – 199
  • Rain – 4,374
  • Snow – 662

weather conditions and collisions

The vast majority of vehicle accidents took place when the roadways were dry, with the second most (a very distant second) occurring when the roadways were wet with rain or snow and slush.

What Types of Vehicles Were Frequently Involved in Collisions?

Without breaking down the exact numbers for the types of vehicles most likely to be involved in collisions, we want to give an overall review of what the Arizona DOT has presented. By far, the majority of vehicles involved in accidents across Arizona (more than 200,000 in 2021) involved only passenger cars, such as sedans, pickup trucks, SUVs, vans, station wagons, etc.

Further examining the data reveals that other types of vehicles are less likely to be involved in accidents, likely because there are fewer of those types of vehicles on the roadway. This includes commercial trucks with trailers, concrete mixer trucks, dump trucks, and other types of truck combinations.

Less likely to be involved in an accident or motorcycles, mopeds, recreational vehicles, golf carts, and buses.

The Impact of Impaired, Exhausted, or Fatigued Drivers on the Roadway

The role of a driver’s physical condition cannot be understated when it comes to examining the causes of vehicle accidents. The majority of individuals involved in vehicle accidents in Arizona in 2021 or not under the apparent influence of any substance and were not fatigued. However, a significant number of collisions involved the following:

  • Alcohol impairment – 5,500
  • Illegal narcotic impairment – 794
  • Impairment due to medications – 183 
  • Marijuana impairment – 178
  • Illness or physical impairment – 777
  • Fatigued or sleeping behind the wheel – 1,689

The Role of Distracted Driving on Arizona Crashes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that nine individuals lose their lives each day across the country as a result of distracted driving. In Arizona, distracted driving led to a significant number of accidents along with collision fatalities and injuries. The main causes of these distractions, at least recorded by the Arizona DOT, include the following:

  • Talking on a hands-free device
  • Talking on a handheld device
  • Distractions caused by a passenger
  • Distractions caused by another electronic device
  • Manually operating an electronic device
  • Other actions inside of the vehicle, including eating, drinking, applying makeup
  • Activities outside of the vehicle that cause a distraction

Arizona does have a “Hands Off” law specifically designed to curb the use of driving while distracted by a mobile device. In Arizona, it is illegal to text or talk on a phone or other mobile device while driving unless using a hands-free option. The law also makes it illegal to hold or support a device with a person’s body, including their shoulder, prohibits them from reading, writing, or sending a text message, and prohibits scrolling through any type of social media or Internet on the device.

Alcohol-Related Crash Statistics, 2017-2021

Official data from 2021 shows that there were 5,620 total alcohol-related collisions across the state that year. Out of these incidents, 243 individuals lost their lives, and more than 3,600 individuals sustained injuries.

Drivers Involved in Alcohol-Related Crashes by Age & Severity of Injuries

When we look more closely at alcohol-related collisions when compared to the age of drivers involved in the incident, we can see that the vast majority of these incidents involve drivers in the age ranges from 25 to 54. 

Even though drivers younger and older than this do drink and drive, more than 63% of collisions involving alcohol impairment or of drivers in that specific age range. 

Alcohol-related accidents resulted in approximately 20% of all fatal collisions in Arizona during 2021, and this is a statistic that remains relatively steady year over year. Despite efforts to curb drunk driving across the state, injuries and fatalities still occur at alarming rates.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by another driver in Arizona, we encourage you to reach out to a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can get involved, conduct a complete investigation, and help you recover the compensation you need. This includes compensation for medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage expenses, and pain and suffering damages.