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Arizona Is Second Deadliest State for Pedestrians

October 5, 2023 | 6 min read

Arizona pedestrian deaths have skyrocketed recently, making Arizona the second deadliest state in the U.S. for pedestrians in 2022. Renowned for its desert landscapes, Grand Canyon, and warm, sunny climate, the state has lately gained this much more unfortunate distinction.

Exploring the statistics of pedestrian fatalities in Arizona can give us an idea of what we are dealing with and why. However, it is important also to consider how we can keep pedestrians safe and what can be done after an unfortunate tragedy.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident, contact the Arizona pedestrian accident attorneys at Burg Simpson for help. We have experience handling cases involving Arizona pedestrian deaths and are eager to help you and your family find some justice after your terrible loss. Call us at 602-777-7000 for a FREE and confidential case evaluation today.

The Deadly Statistics

How Many Pedestrian Deaths a Year in the U.S.?

Pedestrian fatalities have increased throughout the nation. In 2022, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported a sharp rise in pedestrian deaths that exceeded the record high of 8,070 deaths in 1980. Fatalities were steadily declining after 1980, hitting a record low in 2010 with 4,302 lives lost. However, what took 30 years to come down has skyrocketed in the last 12 years. There were 8,126 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. last year.

Pedestrian Death Statistics in Arizona

The streets of Phoenix and other major Arizona cities have seen an alarming increase in pedestrian fatalities. In 2021, there were 260 deaths in Arizona, an already high number. However, 2022 brought a shocking increase to 307 tragedies.

While pedestrian safety is a nationwide concern, Arizona’s numbers are particularly concerning. Arizona showed the most significant increase in fatalities of any state between 2021 to 2022 and ranked second in the nation for fatality rate per 100,000 population. The pedestrian death rate in Arizona is at 4.17, whereas the national rate is only 2.28. Such an elevated rate indicates systemic issues that need immediate attention.

Why Pedestrian Deaths Are Skyrocketing

Several factors have been identified that contribute to these bleak statistics:


In 2021, speeding was linked to nearly 29% of overall traffic fatalities, with at least 8% being pedestrian deaths specifically. As a car’s speed escalates, so does the likelihood of a fatal outcome in an accident. According to the GHSA, the fatality risk rises from 10% at 23 mph to 90% when a vehicle hits 58 mph.

Alcohol & Drug Impaired Driving or Walking

Alcohol and drug impairment play a significant role in many fatal pedestrian accidents. There has been a considerable uptick in reckless driving behaviors since the pandemic. However, it must not be overlooked that 30.5% of pedestrians killed in traffic accidents had a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

Lack of Infrastructure

Many areas in Arizona—especially in rapidly growing cities—lack sufficient pedestrian infrastructure such as crosswalks, pedestrian signals, sidewalks, and appropriate lighting. Wide roads designed for high-speed traffic have often been prioritized over the safety of those who live and shop nearby. Such roads, especially without proper pedestrian safety features, can become death traps.

Distracted Driving

With the proliferation of smartphones, distracted driving has become a significant concern. Arizona has laws prohibiting texting and driving (A.R.S. § 28-914), but enforcing these rules remains challenging.

Where Do Most Pedestrian Fatalities Occur?

Most pedestrian fatalities occur in urban areas, away from intersections, often on busy main roads or arterial routes. According to 2021 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 84% of pedestrian deaths occurred in urban settings, with 75% occurring at locations that were not intersections. Though designed for safety, crosswalks are not always present or used, leading pedestrians to cross at undesignated spots.

What Percentage of Pedestrian Fatalities Occur at Night?

Nighttime conditions contribute significantly to pedestrian accidents, with around 77% of fatalities happening in the dark. Non-intersection locations present a higher risk after dark due to vehicles traveling at faster speeds with less visibility and a reduced expectation of pedestrian activity.

What Kind of Pedestrians Are Most at Risk?

Older individuals and children are among the most vulnerable pedestrian groups. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that older adults, aged 65 and over, accounted for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in recent years. Children, especially those under 15, are also at heightened risk due to their smaller size and unpredictability.

Additionally, alcohol-involved accidents increase fatality risks; nearly half of crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths involved alcohol for one or both parties (NHTSA). Lastly, pedestrians who traverse high-traffic urban areas or non-intersection zones are at a greater risk of fatal incidents.

How Can You Stay Safe While Walking on the Street?

To ensure pedestrian safety while walking on the street, one should follow these measures:

  • Always use sidewalks when available. If they are not, walk facing traffic.
  • Utilize crosswalks and obey pedestrian signals, waiting for the “walk” sign.
  • If there is no crosswalk, find a well-lit spot to cross and make eye contact with drivers.
  • Stay alert and avoid distractions like texting or using headphones.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing, especially at night.
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs which impair judgment and coordination.
  • Be especially cautious in high-traffic areas and during poor visibility conditions, such as fog or dusk.

Who Is Liable?

Arizona law is clear: drivers must exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians. According to A.R.S. § 28-794, drivers must give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing a child or an obviously confused or incapacitated individual.

Yet, the onus does not lie solely on drivers. Pedestrians, too, must follow the rules, such as only crossing roads at designated crosswalks and obeying traffic signals (A.R.S. § 28-793).

In a pedestrian accident in Arizona, multiple parties can be held liable. The driver of a vehicle that struck the pedestrian is often the primary party considered at fault. However, liability can also extend to entities responsible for road maintenance, traffic controls, or faulty vehicle parts. They may share some fault if the pedestrian was jaywalking or otherwise not following traffic rules.

Read More: Your Rights As a Pedestrian in Phoenix

Arizona’s pure comparative fault laws, per A.R.S § 12-2505, allow an injured party to collect damages no matter how much they have contributed to the accident. Their damages will simply be reduced by their percentage of fault. An experienced pedestrian accident attorney can investigate all potential factors and parties involved to determine liability.

What Can Be Done About Arizona Pedestrian Deaths?

Reducing the number of pedestrian deaths in Arizona is vital. Potential measures include:

  • Implementing and enforcing stricter penalties for distracted driving.
  • Increasing public awareness campaigns on pedestrian safety.
  • Investing in infrastructure—more crosswalks, better lighting, and pedestrian islands.
  • Lowering speed limits in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
  • Enforcing existing traffic laws more rigorously.

Legal recourse is available for families who have lost a loved one or individuals who have suffered injuries. Holding negligent parties accountable can provide a sense of justice and ensure that responsible parties bear the costs associated with these tragic events.

How Can Burg Simpson Help You?

The spike in Arizona pedestrian deaths is a stark reminder that both policymakers and the general public must take urgent steps. Together, we can make our roads safer and ensure that Arizona is known not for its pedestrian fatalities but for its commitment to safety and community well-being.

At Burg Simpson, we are committed to representing victims and their families. As a trusted legal name in Phoenix, we have witnessed firsthand the aftermath of these tragic accidents and understand the profound impact. Contact us for a FREE and confidential case evaluation if your loved one has been fatally injured in a pedestrian accident.

Utilizing our local knowledge and national resources, we will pursue the just compensation you deserve for your terrible loss. We proudly serve our neighbors in Phoenix and throughout Arizona.