Traffic fatalities in recent years have been on the rise across the United States. The trend is affecting Arizona drivers, as well.

An experienced Phoenix car accident attorney can protect your legal right to be compensated for injuries and financial losses sustained in a car accident. But of course, we would prefer if they could be prevented from happening in the first place.

How Arizona’s Traffic Fatality Statistics Compare to Nationwide Data

The Washington Post reports that traffic fatalities across the United States hit an all-time low in 2011. This is a result of the economic crash of 2008, which led to fewer vehicles being on the road. But since 2011, Americans have slowly returned to the road, and traffic fatalities have been steadily climbing. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released its fatality data for 2016 which showed a continuation of the trend of increased traffic fatalities. A 5.4 percent increase placed the total number of fatality victims over thirty-seven thousand.

Arizona is also seeing some concerning trends in car accident fatalities. The Arizona Department of Transportation reports that traffic fatalities increased in both 2015 and 2016. Based upon data obtained from its Motor Vehicle Crash Report, ADOT identified the leading contributing causes of fatal traffic accidents. These were: failure to use a seat belt, reckless driving, speeding, and impairment by drugs or alcohol.

How Phoenix Drivers Can Reduce the Severity of Injuries

The ADOT data reveals problems with relatively simple solutions. Seat belt use is more than just an important safety precaution – it is also a requirement of Arizona law. Section 28-909 of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) requires front seat occupants to have their lap and shoulder belts properly adjusted and fastened while the vehicle is in motion (so long as the vehicle has been installed with seat belt systems meeting federal requirements). Similarly, speeding and reckless driving are also prohibited by Arizona traffic statutes. A.R.S. §28-701 prohibits drivers from traveling at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent for current conditions. This means that a driver traveling at the posted speed limit can be cited for speeding if weather, traffic, decreased visibility, or other conditions make it unsafe to do so. Reckless driving is prohibited under A.R.S. §28-693. Both speeding and reckless driving should be avoided, not only to prevent a traffic citation, but also to reduce the risk of causing an accident.

Impaired driving trends have also changed in recent years. ADOT reports that 2016 saw a decrease in accidents related to alcohol impairment, but an increase in accidents related to illegal drugs or prescription medications. This, too, is consistent with national data. The Washington Post reports that 2015 was the first year in which drugged driving caused more traffic fatalities in America than drunk driving. Arizona drivers must accept personal responsibility for not driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. With the wide availability of ride share apps (such as Lyft and Uber), it is easier than ever to summon a ride when and where it is needed.

If you’re injured in a crash, contacting an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney as soon as possible improves your chances of obtaining fair compensation. Negligent drivers must be held accountable for their dangerous behavior. Damage awards serve not only to ensure that the victim recovers, but also serves as an incentive for other motorists and employers to do better in the future.