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The Facts About Crashes: Statistics and Analysis of Motor Vehicle Crashes in Arizona

May 21, 2016 Hastings and Hastings

Hastings and Hastings has more than 35 years of experiencingfighting for the rights of accident victims in Arizona. Our client focused approach is aimed at helping people put their lives back together after suffering an accident. While we cannot turn back time and erase the accident, we can fight to see that accident victims receive that financial compensation they deserve for their hardship.

Every year hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur, resulting in tens of thousands of fatalities and billions of dollars of property damage. At Hastings & Hastings we are fierce supporters of accident prevention. An accident can change an individual’s life forever. While financial compensation can help accident victims going forwards, it cannot fully wipe away the physical, emotional, and mental hardship accident victims have suffered.

Our ability to learn from the past is one of the best ways to support and promote accident prevention. Every year organizations such as the Department of Transportation and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration gather statistics documenting every accident that occurred in the United States. By looking closely at these statistics we can learn the common causes of accidents, we can see which accident trends are improving and which are getting worse, we can also learn to reduce accident severity. Finally, we can compare accident trends in Arizona to those of the nation as a whole.

In today’s blog we will be using the Arizona Department of Transportation’s Crash Facts for the State of Arizona (2014) for all statistics.

Focusing On Arizona

In the year 2014, the Arizona Department of Transportation documented 109,554 total car accidents. This number was up 1.93 percent from the year before. These accidents resulted in 774 total fatalities and 50,890 total injuries. A breakdown of these numbers reveal that approximately 2.12 individuals are killed every day in vehicle related accidents on Arizona streets. Almost 140 individuals are injured on a daily basis.

In Arizona, alcohol related crashes account for 4.46 percent of total accidents while causing a troubling 33.62 percent of fatalities. A majority of alcohol related crashes occur in urban rather than rural areas. A quick look at these numbers reveals two clear correlations.

1) Alcohol increases accident severity and dramatically increases the likelihood that an accident will result in a fatality.

2) City drivers are much more likely to be involved in an alcohol related car accident.

We will look closer at the issues later. For now, let’s see how Arizona’s crash statistics compare to the nation as a while.

Arizona v. America

To gain deeper insight into the accident crash statistics for Arizona we must put them into context by comparing them to accident statistics in the United States as a whole. When making the comparison we will be asking questions such as: Do accidents occur in great frequents in Arizona? Are accidents more or less severe in Arizona? Do any patterns present themselves? Do the statistics look different when put in historical perspective?

In 2014, the United States had an estimated population of approximately 320,828,051. Arizona’s population was approximately 6,731,000. The total number of accident related fatalities in the United States during 2014 was 32,675, accounting for just over .01 percent of the total population. The total number of accident related fatalities in Arizona during 2015 was 774, accounting for .011 percent of the total population.

Putting these numbers side by side, we see that they are almost identical. The accident fatality rate for Arizona is closely in line with the accident fatality rate for the nation. This seems reveals the idea that it is no more dangerous to drivein Arizona than the nation as a whole on average. However, when these statistics are framed slightly differently, in terms of fatality rate per 100 million miles travelled, a larger difference begins to appear.

The fatality rate for the United States in 2014 was 1.07 per 100 million miles travelled. This is compared to a rate of 1.24 fatalities per 100 million miles travelled here in Arizona. While the 2014 rate in Arizona is much higher than that of the entire United States, it represents a distinct in-state improvement from the rate of 1.40 from 2013.

Measuring accident fatalities in terms of rate per 100 million miles travelled is useful because it equalizes and normalizes the statistics in terms of population and other external factors.

Economic Losses Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents

Now we will focus on the question, what do these accidents cost Arizona in terms of economic losses and property damage? By looking at this number and analyzing it, we can come to a closer understanding of how we should value damages in individual accidents.

According to the statistics gathered by the Arizona Department of Transportation, the total economic losses in 2014 added up to $3,024,678,318. The bulk of these losses ($1,184,220,000) comes as a result of accident fatalities while the second largest amount ($705,710,970) comes strictly from property damage only accidents.

The loses from accident fatalities are calculated by the National Safety Council and account for estimated wages and productivity loss, medical and administrative expenses, value of damaged motor vehicles, employer costs. On average, a single accident fatality results in economic cost of $1,530,000. Accidents involving injuries range from $24,480 – $76,389 while property damage only accidents have an average economic costs of $9,486.

When and Where

Next, we will look at when and where accidents occur most frequently. We will also explore the correlation between location, time, and severity.

It comes as no surprise that the number of urban crashes (89,352) far exceeds the number of rural crashes (20,202). This is primarily because a majority of the population lives in urban areas. This is where most of the driving occurs. Despite the vast difference in totally number of crashes between urban and rural areas, the total number of fatalities is startlingly similar. In 2014, 397 individuals were killed in urban crashes while 377 were killed in rural crashes. While rural crashes account for merely 18.44% of total crashes in Arizona, they cause 48.71% of the fatalities. This means that a collision in a rural area has a much higher likelihood of resulting in a fatality.

A majority of the interstate, highway, and freeways miles in Arizona fall in rural areas. Vehicles traveling through these areas are typically driving at high speeds (65mph +). Accidents which occur at high speeds are much more likely to result in a fatality. For this reason, fatality rates in rural crashes are much higher than those in urban areas. On average, rural accidents are much more severe than urban accidents.

In 2014, accidents occurred with the highest frequency on Friday (18,759) and with the lowest on Sunday (9,727) while Saturday ranks second lowest (13,268). However, Saturday ranks first in terms of fatalities (150) by a wide margin with Friday coming in second (107). Fatality rates remain rather steady Monday-Friday, while leaping dramatically by almost 50% on Saturday.

Finally, we will look at statistics regarding accident frequency and fatality rate by month. In 2014, the month in which the most accidents occurred was December with 10,373. Following closely behind was October with 10,182. The highest number of fatalities occurred during the month of May (70) while the least occurred during the month of July(42).

In Conclusion

The Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Crash Facts contains an incredible wealth of information, which we have only just begun to touch on. What is important, is the ability to take this data and turn it into actionable advice. For example, we know accidents occur with the highest frequency in the month of December. It is likely that this is because of increased holiday traffic. There is also a correlation with drinking and driving during the holidays.

We therefore know it is important to:

1) Minimize driving during this period of time.

2) Practice defensive driving when out on the road.

Further careful analysis of accident data can reveal other actions which driver may take to increase safety when out on the road.