Is it Dangerous to Drive in Arizona?

Since it was first recognized as a state in 1912, Arizona has become known for its majestic landscapes, hardworking people, and unforgiving desert climate. In the present day, the state has seen steady population growth over the last few years. Arizona is currently estimated to have the 14th largest population of all the U.S. states, at roughly 7,303,398 residents. With so much of the state’s population clustered around some of the region’s largest cities, we wanted to see how dangerous driving on Arizona roads is. 

Examining Arizona’s Statewide Infrastructure

The quality of a roadway has a massive impact on whethermotorists will be able to travel on it safely. Using data compiled by TRIP, a nonprofit research organization, we were able to get a sense of the status of Arizona’s infrastructure. TRIP’s data is pulled from 2020, the most recent year for which road condition statistics are available publicly for the state. Of particular interest to us was the condition of the state’s roadways and bridges. 

To our surprise, approximately 2% of the bridges inspected in Arizona were found to be deficient or in disrepair. While this may seem like a reassuringly low figure, this translates to 150 bridges in the state that display “significant deterioration” or their supports, deck, or other critical features of their support system. All bridges inevitably wear down over time from use, weather, and tectonic shifts, thus necessitating periodic repairs. It is likely that the impacted bridges will need such repairs to maintain their structural integrity. The longer that repairs are put off, the more expensive the repairs will be – to say nothing of the cost in lives and property damage should a bridge fail while in use by motorists or pedestrians.

Arizona’s roads were in noticeably poor shape in 2020, according to TRIP’s data. Nearly one-in-five roads were in “poor” condition, while only 40% of the state’s roadways were marked as “good.” To classify road conditions, TRIP focuses on asphalt and pavement quality. Rough surfaces, potholes, rutting, and other recognized defects cause a road to be marked down. A poorly designed or maintained roadway can increase collisions, cause damage to cars and trucks, and injure motorcyclists.

How Many Drivers Are There in Arizona?

More drivers and vehicles on the road inevitably means that the odds of a collision or getting stuck in a highway traffic jam increase. From 2010 to 2020, the number of registered vehicles and licensed drivers in the state increased markedly every year. In 2010, Arizona had 4,805,904 registered vehicles and 4,537,653 licensed drivers. By 2020, those numbers increased to 6,356,220 and 5,772,928, respectively. Over that eleven-year period, the number of vehicles increased by roughly 24%, while the number of drivers rose by approximately 21%. 

How Many Car Crashes Does Arizona Have Per Year?

Even the most cautious driver is at risk of an accident when on the road, due to factors outside of their control. Unexpected weather conditions, dangerous road defects, vehicle problems, sudden driver incapacitation, and the actions of other motorists can result in a crash. To get a sense of how many collisions occur in Arizona over the course of a year, we took a look at the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (AZDOT) data from 2010 to 2020. 

Of note: 

• The number of annual accidents increases from 2012 to 2017, before declining slightly in 2018.

• 2019 had the most reported accidents of the timeframe, with 130,366 collisions.

• As the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, traffic across the U.S. decreased significantly. The number of annual accidents in Arizona dropped massively from previous figures as a result, to 98,778. 

Does Drunk & Impaired Driving Play a Significant Role in Arizona Crashes?

It is a documented fact that driving while drunk or impaired negatively impacts a person’s ability to manage their car and stay safe on the road. An impaired driver may display poor decision making and judgment, have delayed reactions, and struggle to maintain control of their vehicle. Even if an impaired driver is fortunate enough to avoid causing a crash, the Rosenstein Law Group notes that they may face arrest and a license suspension if pulled over by the authorities. 

The AZDOT tracks whether a car accident involved a driver under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants. We display their data from 2020, the most recent year for which such data is publicly available, in the chart below. 

Of note:

• Most Arizona crashes (85.37%) did not involve a driver that was impaired.

• Of all intoxicating crash factors, alcohol was the most common. A driver was legally driving under the influence in 2.32% of crashes.

• Marijuana use, illegal drugs, drowsiness and sleep, medications, illness and impairment, and other conditions influenced only 0.72% of motorists.

How Dangerous is it to Drive in Arizona?

All things considered, the odds of getting into a crash in Arizona are likely to be out of the average person’s control. To avoid getting into an accident due to the acts of another driver or a dangerous road condition, it’s important to always practice defensive driving. Stay aware of everything that is happening around your vehicle, maintain a safe following distance from the car in front of you, and never drive while distracted or impaired.

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