Motor vehicle collisions are fairly common and can sometimes be life-altering. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports an estimated 42,915 people across the U.S. were killed in traffic accidents in 2021 alone, representing a 10.5% increase over 2020 and a 16-year high in traffic fatalities. The risk of accident involvement is especially high for young drivers. According to a study by Safety Insurance, while drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 only make up 6.7% of drivers, they account for 20% of all traffic collisions in the U.S. Across the nation, 43% of drivers in their first year of driving are involved in accidents as are 37% of drivers in their second year of driving.
While Arizonans might expect that traffic accidents and deaths might have decreased in the last few years because of the pandemic, that is not the case. Unfortunately, data from the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) reveals that traffic fatalities increased by 12% year-over-year from 2020 to 2021 in the state with a total of 1,180 deaths in 2021 as compared to 1,054. Overall, the total number of traffic collisions in Arizona also saw a substantial increase of 23% over 2020, with a total of 121,345 collisions in 2021 as compared to 98,778 in 2020. Because of the increases in traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities, the attorneys at Lamber Goodnow wanted to explore the traffic accident statistics for 2021 in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and the state’s most populous county, Maricopa County.
Total Crash, Fatality, and Injuries in Greater Phoenix and Maricopa County
The greater Phoenix area and Maricopa County account for most of the population of Arizona with more than 62% of the state’s residents living in the Valley. With more than half of Arizona’s residents calling Phoenix and Maricopa County home, it is unsurprising that they also account for the largest percentage of accidents, injuries, and fatalities in the state.
In 2021, ADOT reports that 86,687 total collisions happened in Maricopa County out of the state’s total of 121,345. This means that the Valley accounted for 71.4% of all traffic accidents in the state of Arizona in 2021. Similarly, Maricopa County experienced 546 fatal accidents resulting in 594 deaths out of the state’s total of 1,180 fatalities. This means that Maricopa County accounted for slightly more than half of all of the traffic fatalities in the state at 50.3%. More people were injured in traffic accidents in Maricopa County in 2021 as compared to the rest of the state. In 2021, 24,283 injury accidents happened in Maricopa County resulting in injuries to 35,488 people. For comparison, the total number of traffic injuries in 2021 in Arizona was 51,633, meaning that Maricopa County accounted for 68.7% of all of the traffic collision injuries that happened in the state.
Out of the crashes that happened in Maricopa County, Phoenix car accident statistics for 2021 show that 40,833 occurred in the city. Phoenix also experienced a total of 278 fatal accidents resulting in the deaths of 294 people and 10,879 injury accidents resulting in injuries to 16,062 people. This data means that Phoenix accounted for almost 34% of all of the accidents that happened in Arizona and 47% of the collisions that occurred in Maricopa County. Phoenix also accounted for nearly 25% of the traffic fatalities in the state in 2021 and 49% of those that occurred in Maricopa County. Finally, 31% of the people who were injured in traffic accidents were injured in Phoenix, and the number of injuries in Phoenix accounted for 45.2% of all those who were injured in Maricopa County traffic collisions in 2021.
ADOT reports that 5,620 collisions in the state in 2021 were alcohol-related, accounting for 4.63% of the total accidents that occurred during the year. Statewide, alcohol-involved collisions resulted in 215 fatal accidents and 243 deaths. There were also 2,351 alcohol-involved injury accidents that resulted in 3,609 injured victims.
In Maricopa County, 3,569 alcohol-involved crashes happened in 2021. These collisions included 104 fatal accidents and 1,431 injury collisions that resulted in 119 deaths and 2,199 injured victims. Maricopa County accounted for 63.5% of all of the alcohol-involved traffic accidents that happened in the state in 2021. The county also accounted for 49% of the total fatalities in the state caused by alcohol-involved collisions and 61% of the injuries in alcohol-involved accidents.
The City of Phoenix reported 1,429 alcohol-involved crashes in 2021. Out of these, 49 people were killed and 872 were injured. This means that 25% of all of the alcohol-involved crashes that happened in Arizona in 2021 occurred in Phoenix. Compared to Maricopa County, alcohol-related crashes in Phoenix accounted for 40% of the total. Alcohol-related crash fatalities in Phoenix accounted for 20% of the alcohol-related traffic deaths in Arizona in 2021 and 41% of those that occurred in Maricopa County. The city also accounted for 24% of all of the alcohol-related traffic injuries that occurred in Arizona in 2021 and 61% of the people injured in alcohol-related Maricopa County crashes during that year.
Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents
There are many different ways that car crashes occur. In some cases, distracted drivers strike objects, parked vehicles, or other motorists. Some accidents involve multiple vehicles. ADOT reports the following information about different types of collisions in 2021 in the state:
- Rear-end accidents were the most frequently occurring and accounted for 39.23% of all of the collisions in Arizona in 2021. They also accounted for 9.31% of all fatal collisions and almost 39% of injury accidents.
- Left-turn accidents accounted for 17.6% of the total accidents in the state in 2021 and also accounted for 11.97% of all fatal collisions and 22.1% of injury collisions.
- Head-on collisions in Arizona made up 2.18% of all collisions that occurred in 2021, but they accounted for a disproportionate percentage of fatal collisions at 11.7%. Head-on collisions also accounted for 3.36% of all injury accidents, demonstrating that they were more likely to result in fatalities than injuries.
- Side-swipe accidents involving vehicles traveling in the same direction accounted for 17.2% of all accidents that occurred. They also comprised 2.79% of fatal accidents and 7.73% of injury crashes.
Driver Violation Types
More than half of all of the collisions that occurred involved traffic violations committed by an involved driver. ADOT reports the following data for various types of driver violations resulting in collisions in 2021:
- Traveling too fast for the conditions – 15.2% of total collisions, 9.8% of fatal accidents, and 16.23% of injury collisions
- Speeding – 0.36% of total crashes, 2.65% of fatal accidents, and 0.49% of injury collisions
- Failing to yield the right-of-way – 9.17% of total crashes, 5.42% of fatal collisions, and 10.91% of injury accidents
- Following too closely – 2.88% of total collisions, 0.4% of fatal accidents, and 2.49% of injury collisions
- Failing to obey a traffic signal – 2.44% of total crashes, 3.58% of fatal accidents, and 3.55% of injury collisions
- Running a stop sign – 0.58% of total accidents, 0.68% of fatal collisions, and 0.83% of injury accidents
- Improper turn – 1.8% of total collisions, 0.52% of fatal accidents, and 1.57% of injury crashes
- Unsafe lane changes – 3.52% of total accidents, 1.04% of fatal collisions, and 1.79% of injury crashes
- Aggressive driving – 0.19% of total collisions, 0.69% of fatal crashes, and 0.22% of injury accidents
- Road rage – 0.27% of total crashes, 0.06% of fatal accidents, and 0.18% of injury accidents
According to ADOT, 1,714 pedestrian accidents happened in Arizona in 2021. A total of 257 pedestrians were killed, and 1,535 were injured. Out of those who were injured, 432 were classified as possible injuries, 708 were classified as minor injuries, and 395 were classified as serious injuries.
Out of all of the pedestrian accidents that were reported in the state in 2021, 1,237 occurred in Maricopa County. 162 of the pedestrian deaths also occurred in Maricopa County as well as 1,133 of those who were injured. As compared to the state’s totals, Maricopa County experienced almost 70% of the total pedestrian accidents in the state in 2021. The county also accounted for 63% of the fatalities and nearly 74% of the injuries. ADOT reports that Maricopa and Pima Counties together accounted for 81.32% of all of the pedestrian deaths that happened in Arizona in 2021.
The Arizona, Maricopa County, and Phoenix car accident statistics demonstrate both how common car crashes are in the state, city, and county and that many are caused by negligent driver behaviors. Motorists should always follow traffic laws and exercise caution when they drive to reduce their chances of being involved in collisions. People who are injured in collisions or lose their loved ones because of the negligent or reckless driving behaviors of others should talk to the experienced car accident lawyers at Lamber Goodnow to learn about the legal remedies that might be available.