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Abels & Annes, P.C. Personal Injury Blog

Phoenix Causes of Car Accidents

Phoenix Causes of Car Accidents

If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, finding out the cause is crucial to your efforts to obtain financial compensation. Phoenix has some of its unique factors that add up to hazards for drivers. Some of them involve the nature of the roads in the area, while others result from the fact that drivers in the area can be impatient and angry. Here are some of the common reasons why car accidents happen in Phoenix.

Weather Conditions

You may be wondering how a city without snow or much rain can pose difficulty for drivers because of its weather. Heat itself does not cause accidents, but it does make drivers worse. When they are fatigued from extreme heat, motorists will not have the same skills and reflexes as they would in more temperate conditions.

If Phoenix has a lot of anything, it is extremely hot days. One study showed a 3 percent increase in car accidents on days that are scorchers, which are basically six months out of the year in Phoenix. Drivers are seven percent more likely to make an error that can cause a car accident on extremely hot days. Sweltering weather can affect their concentration.

In addition, extreme heat can negatively impact your car’s performance, meaning that it may not be there for you when you need to take a sudden action to avoid an accident. The hot days can cause tire blowouts, and that may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Finally, the desert heat can cause some drivers to get aggravated and lose their tempers, leading to road rage incidents that we describe below.

Finally, while Phoenix does not get much rain, the precipitation that it does have can make things worse in a hurry for drivers. Roads are subject to flooding when sudden rainstorms occur.

Aggressive and Rageful Drivers

Phoenix, and Arizona drivers in general, have a problem controlling their emotions. Road rage incidents are dramatically on the rise in the state and the Valley area. While many of these incidents involve drivers committing acts of physical violence against other drivers after things that happen on the road, it does reveal that many Phoenix drivers have short tempers.

This can manifest itself in hyper-aggressive driving that can put everyone at risk. Aggressive driving means tailgating or making other hostile moves as part of a dispute. Not only does this endanger the driver who is the target, but it puts everyone in the surrounding area at risk.

Aggressive drivers who are running on emotion make poor choices. They are not thinking about safety when their sole focus is on settling a score. Even worse, they can lose control of their own car when they perform dangerous moves, and they can collect other cars in an accident.

Phoenix Is One Big Construction Zone

Phoenix has reached the point where its infrastructure is beginning to show its age. While the city is on the newer side, its roads are not in the best shape. Perhaps this is because Phoenix is still a car city, and the combination of tens of thousands of cars and the desert heat can prematurely age roads. Poor road conditions alone are enough to cause accidents.

Now, Phoenix is committed to doing something about the state of its roads. However, fixing roads means that they become construction zones. Work zones, whether they are on the highway or city streets, can challenge drivers.

Construction means slower speeds and narrower lanes. It also means sudden changes in road conditions that pose challenges even for drivers who are paying attention. When motorists do not exercise the appropriate amount of caution, it causes work zone accidents. Now, they can expect even more construction in Phoenix, as the city has announced plans to fix even more roads.

One study even found that Phoenix was tied with Detroit for the worst roads in the county out of 20 large urban areas analyzed.

Urban Highways Can Be Dangerous

Phoenix has hundreds of miles of urban highways. There are interstates, such as I-10 and I-17, that carry tens of thousands of drivers each day. In Phoenix, the problem is not so much heavy traffic. The city has enough highways and roads to carry all of the cars traveling. However, this is a double-edged sword. When the roads are wide and multi-laned, it also encourages bad behavior among drivers. They have more room and the ability to drive dangerously.

The statistics about Phoenix highway fatalities back this up. More than half of highway fatalities in the area occur from Friday to Sunday. This means that drivers are riskier when they have more wide-open roads. In addition, the fact that there are so many lanes on Phoenix highways allows drivers to weave in and out of traffic, and they may do so recklessly.

In fact, some observers rank I-17 as the fourth-deadliest highway in the entire country. From 2011-2015, there were 49 deaths just on the part of the highway within Phoenix city limits. Between Phoenix and Flagstaff, there were 123 deaths in that time. One of the common issues on I-17 is drunk drivers. In addition, the highway has a significant amount of truck traffic and commercial accidents.

According to the Arizona Republic, there was a fatal freeway accident in the Valley area once every five days from 2013-2015. This is 61 percent higher than the national average of highway fatalities. This is part of why Phoenix has one of the highest car accident fatality rates of any big city in the country.

Truck Traffic

Even though Phoenix is not at the center of the country, it is still in a prime position for truck traffic. Because it is located on I-10, trucks will pass through Phoenix on their way to the rest of the country from the ports in Southern California.

Trucks coming to and from the Mexican border may also transit through the Valley area. In addition, there is a massive Walmart distribution facility south of Phoenix that has increased truck traffic in the area. In general, the move towards online shopping means that you will see multiple Amazon and Walmart trucks every time you get on a highway in Phoenix.

The presence of large trucks on Valley area roads makes life more difficult for all other drivers. Trucking has become far more dangerous these days as companies struggle to get enough qualified drivers on the road. Rookie drivers can make errors when trying to handle a vehicle that can weigh 80,000 pounds fully loaded. This far outweighs other vehicles on the roads. As a result, most drivers do not walk away from truck accidents unharmed.

They also press to meet delivery deadlines in the face of federal restrictions on how much drivers can operate their vehicles. Limits on shifts mean that truck drivers may speed to cover as much ground as they can before they need to take a mandatory break.

Uber and Lyft Vehicles

Like any city, the prevalence of rideshare vehicles on the road makes things more dangerous for other Phoenix drivers. Until the pandemic took many of these drivers off the road, the car accident rate in the area was increasing. Uber drivers in Phoenix have the 14th-highest hourly earnings in the country, so it follows that there will be plenty of them on the road.

Rideshare drivers often drive in parts of the Valley with which they are unfamiliar. Further, they are focused on the app and picking up new rides to increase their earnings. They may be driving in circles in a practice known as “deadheading” to stay within the area where ride requests are prevalent. Then, they may race to pick up the ride, so they can maintain their high driver rating. In some ways, the ride-sharing system can incentivize drivers to engage in dangerous practices like distracted driving and speeding.

In general, the sprawling road network in Phoenix increases the chance of lost drivers who are unfamiliar with the terrain and roads. Lost drivers will look to their smartphones for directions, taking one or both of their eyes off the road.

Crowded Intersections

The long multi-lane urban roads heading out to the suburbs present difficulties for drivers who are trying to make a left turn. Some of Phoenix’s urban roads, like Camelback and McDowell, can carry up to 80,000 cars per day. Even with perfectly timed lights and traffic control, these intersections will still be dangerous. Some intersections, such as along McDowell and Camelback Roads, will have an accident every few days as cars try to beat the lights to make their turns. Other drivers are not paying attention, and they will run red lights or not see cars in the intersection. Accidents while cars turn are often extremely dangerous because one car will hit the other head-on or slam into the side of the other vehicle. These kinds of accidents can cause serious injuries for drivers.

Tourists and Part-Year Residents

Many people will flock to Phoenix in the winter and fall for more temperate weather when the thermometer readings are not as high in the Valley. Tourists and snowbirds contribute to car accidents because they are not familiar with local roads.

Like the Uber drivers mentioned above, they struggle to navigate when they are lost, and they may get distracted when they are lost. Their timid driving would lead them to make illegal lane changes when they are trying to get over to make a turn. They may be driving very slowly on highways or can stop without warning in front of you. What’s worse is that many out-of-state drivers travel in rental cars, so it is hard to know when you need to take extra care.

Drunk Driving

Arizona has a higher than average rate of drunk driving fatalities. This is why there are more traffic fatalities on state roads over the weekends. Drunk drivers can drive aggressively or lose control of their cars, impacting other motorists in the area. They can cause horrific collisions by falling asleep at the wheel or driving into head-on traffic. This is exactly why I-17 is one of the country’s most dangerous roads. Local authorities have had to put up signs warning motorists about wrong-way driving.

Alcohol reduces drivers’ natural aversion to risk because it lowers their inhibitions. It also keeps them from being able to process and follow traffic signs and signals.

Distracted Driving

Like everyone else, Phoenix drivers are increasingly more distracted behind the wheel. Their mobile device competes for their attention when they are driving, despite the tough traffic laws that prohibit the use of handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle. Texting and emailing while driving are particularly serious problems.

Looking at your phone often makes crashes far worse because drivers hit objects without any attempts to evade the hazard or slow down. In addition, these drivers miss opportunities to avoid crashes because they lose valuable time to slow down or move their car out of harm’s way.

Reckless Drivers

Phoenix drivers are often in a hurry, even when there is nobody else on the roads. They think that it is worth the risk to themselves and other drivers to get there a few minutes faster. This is why many accidents happen outside of peak travel hours. Speeding drivers are more likely to lose control of their car or fail to stop at a red light or stop sign. They have worse reflexes and less of an ability to avoid a crash.

Reckless driving means that these drivers have little regard for anyone else’s safety. This is not a problem local to Phoenix, but the city does rank 35th out of 183 cities in the U.S. in terms of dangerous roads. This is partly due to the high fatality rate associated with reckless driving.

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