It’s a reality every driver has to remember: every time you hit the road, there is an inherent danger involved. Vehicles are large machines moving at high rates of speed and operated by people who can make mistakes. You are at risk of having a wreck, and there are chances of dying in a car crash. Take a look at the risk factors and learn from our Phoenix personal injury lawyers about what you can do to stay safer on the road.
Chances of Dying in a Car Crash in Arizona
Despite significant advancements in vehicle technology and safety regulations, car crashes remain a major public health concern. According to data from the Arizona Department of Transportation, 1,180 people died in crashes around the state in 2021. That was the highest death toll since at least 2012, showing that the problem seems to get worse each year. In Maricopa County, there were nearly 600 crash fatalities.
In the same time period, crashes in Arizona caused injury to tens of thousands of other people. Those wrecks happened on all sorts of roads, including state highways, city streets and country roads. This data shows there is no area where your chances of dying in a car crash are non-existent. This is why you need to work to learn the risk factors and protect yourself. The probability of dying in a car crash depends on a variety of factors, including age, gender, driving experience, location and the type of vehicle involved.
Age is a significant factor in the likelihood of dying in a car crash. Car crashes are more likely to involve younger drivers, particularly those aged 16-20, than older drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drivers aged 16-19 are three times more likely to experience a fatal crash than drivers aged 20 and older.
This is largely due to the lack of experience and maturity of younger drivers, who may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Gender is another factor that can affect the chances of dying in a car crash. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), men are more likely to be involved in fatal car crashes than women. In 2019, 70% of all fatal car crashes in the US involved male drivers.
The reasons for this gender disparity are not entirely clear, but it may be due to differences in risk-taking behavior, aggression on the road and the types of vehicles men tend to drive.
The type of vehicle is a significant factor in determining the likelihood of death in a crash. Larger vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, are generally safer than smaller vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles. This is because larger vehicles have more mass and are therefore more likely to withstand the impact of a crash.
The installed safety equipment in a vehicle also affects survival rates after a crash. All modern cars in the United States have to have seat belts and airbags that meet minimum federal standards, but there can still be variations in this equipment. Certain car manufacturers use more advanced airbags and restraint systems.
Certain cars also have non-standard safety tools, such as advanced braking systems and lane-monitoring tools, that increase your ability to prevent and react to a crash, reducing the chances of dying in a car crash.
While every road presents a risk, some driving locations are riskier than others. Rural areas can be more dangerous, partly due to the higher speeds and longer travel distances on rural roads, as well as the lack of infrastructure and emergency services. Construction zones and high-volume streets and intersections can also present an increased risk for crashes. Roads that have higher speed limits, such as interstates, pose a danger since a wreck at a high rate of travel will likely be more serious than a slow-speed crash.
Rough weather, such as rain, dust storms or fog, can increase your chances of getting into a car crash. Wet or icy roads can reduce traction, making it harder to control your vehicle. Reduced visibility due to fog or heavy rain can also increase the risk of a car crash. Always assess weather conditions before you leave your home and delay the trip if necessary.
Finally, driver behavior is perhaps the most critical factor in determining the chances of dying in a car crash. According to the NHTSA, speeding was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. The faster you drive, the less time you have to react to unexpected situations on the road. Additionally, the force of impact is much greater at higher speeds, which increases the likelihood of serious injury or death.
Alcohol use further increases the likelihood of having a fatal crash. Another NHTSA report shows that about one person dies in a drunk-driving car crash every 45 minutes in the U.S. Drug use behind the wheel is just as dangerous. Drivers who fail to wear a seatbelt or who do not properly secure their children in car seats also increase the risk of death in the event of a crash.
Steps To Improve Safety During a Crash
Some of the factors that increase the chances of dying in a crash are out of your control. As tough as it is, you don’t have the ability to tell other drivers what to do or to control external circumstances such as road conditions, weather and driving hazards. Still, there are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family and increase your chances of surviving a car crash.
Wear Your Seat Belt
Wearing your seat belt is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of dying or getting seriously injured in a car crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts saved over 14,000 lives in 2016.
In fact, wearing a seat belt can reduce your risk of dying in a car crash by up to 50%. Therefore, it is essential to always wear your seat belt and make sure that all passengers in your vehicle are wearing theirs as well. Even on short drives, our car accident attorneys in Phoenix know that a seat belt could be the difference between life and death.
Obey Traffic Laws
Obeying traffic laws is critical for driving safely and reducing the chances of dying in a car crash. Traffic laws keep drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe, so it is important to follow signals, signs and speed limits. Make sure to use your turn signals and obey the right-of-way rules.
Never Drive Under the Influence
Because of how severely alcohol and other substances can impair your judgment and reaction time, never get behind the wheel if you are under the influence. Even what may seem like moderate drinking can make you unqualified to drive and increase your chances of dying in a crash.
You should also consider any prescription medicines you may be taking. Some medications can cause drowsiness, hallucinations and other perception issues. In this state, you can’t properly operate a car or react if another driver makes a mistake on the road.
Distractions are one of the leading causes of car crashes. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid distractions while driving. Some common distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating, drinking, or adjusting the radio. If you need to make a phone call or send a text, pull over to a safe location first. Not only does this make you safer, but it also keeps you in compliance with Arizona’s “Hands Off” law.
Keep a Safe Distance
Maintaining a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This distance gives you enough time to react in case of an unexpected situation on the road, such as sudden braking or a vehicle changing lanes.
The recommended safe distance is at least two seconds, which means that you should be able to count to two before your vehicle reaches the same point as the one in front of you. In bad weather conditions or at high speeds, increase the safe distance even more.
Check Your Mirrors
Checking your mirrors regularly is crucial for safe driving. Mirrors allow you to see other vehicles around you, as well as any potential hazards on the road. Because you can’t control what other drivers do, your best bet is to keep a careful eye on them and respond to any questionable moves carefully.
Make sure to adjust your mirrors before driving and check them frequently while driving. Additionally, always look over your shoulder before changing lanes or making a turn.
Use Your Headlights
Use your headlights, especially at night or in bad weather, to not only help you see the road ahead but also to make your vehicle more visible to other drivers. Make sure that your headlights are functioning properly and turn them on when driving in low-light conditions, such as dusk or dawn.
Stay Alert and Focused
Staying alert and focused while driving reduces your chances of dying in a car crash. Avoid driving when you are tired or drowsy, as it can impair your judgment and reaction time. You should also avoid driving under emotional stress, as it can distract you and make you more prone to making mistakes. If you feel tired or stressed while driving, take a break and rest before continuing on your journey.
Learn About the Safety Features of Your Car
Vehicle safety features have come a long way in recent years, and there are now many advanced technologies available that can help you reduce the chances of dying in a crash. When you get a new vehicle, take the time to learn about these features and how they work. Look for things such as stability control, forward collision warning systems, blind spot monitoring and more to make your ride safer.
What To Do in Case of a Deadly Crash
If you are involved in a deadly crash, there are a lot of things to deal with, physically, emotionally and legally. When the wreck happens, contact the police immediately and seek medical attention for all the survivors. Once you move past the immediate concerns of the crash, there are some long-term things you will need to consider.
Get Legal Advice
As soon as possible, get legal advice from a trusted team such as the Sargon Law Group. If someone else has caused the crash and killed one of your loved ones, you or that victim’s family may be able to seek compensation with help from a Phoenix wrongful death attorney. People who had injuries from the crash may also receive damages.
If you are a survivor of a crash and you have been told you are at fault or partially at fault, you also need legal representation to protect your interests. You likely have a long legal battle ahead of you, and it can be difficult to navigate that alone.
Document Your Recovery and Expenses
Make sure to keep detailed records of all expenses related to the crash and the death of anyone who died in the wreck. This will be important for seeking proper compensation from an insurance company or during a wrongful death lawsuit.
Consider Counseling or Therapy
A deadly car crash can be a traumatic experience that can leave you and other survivors with emotional scars. Consider seeking counseling or therapy to help you cope with the aftermath of the crash. A mental health professional can provide you with the support and guidance you need to heal from the trauma.
Manage Your Chances of Dying in a Car Crash
While you may not be able to make the road 100% safe, you can take steps that lower your chances of dying in a car crash. Commit to driving safely and using the safety features your car comes with to prevent wrecks. If you are dealing with the aftermath of a wreck, contact Sargon Law Group and make sure you have the support you need.