The theme of this year’s National Trauma Awareness Month (observed annually in May) is Roadway Safety is No Accident. The Arizona Department of Health Services’ Bureau of EMS and Trauma System and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) are joining forces to spread the message that  Prevention is Key: Safety is a Choice. 

According to the Arizona Department of Transportation:

  • In 2021, 1,180 people died in motor vehicle crashes in Arizona, which equates to roughly three people killed each day
  • Another 51,633 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes, or about one person injured every 10 minutes.

Six out of the top 10 injury types recorded in Arizona’s EMS Registry for 2021 were related to motor vehicle traffic. Arizona’s 47 trauma centers provided care for 65,396 trauma incidents in 2021, 16,115 (25%) of which were motor vehicle traffic (MVT) related. 

Arizona State Trauma Registry (ASTR) data shows the distribution of MVT incidents by mechanism (type of injury). MVT-Pedestrian fatalities were 4.5 times higher than MVT-Occupant, meaning pedestrians were far more likely to be killed in car accidents than vehicle drivers or passengers. Motorcyclists were also far more likely to be killed than vehicle drivers in an accident, with MVT-Motorcyclist fatalities occurring 2.5 times higher than MVT-Occupant.

Table 1. 2021 Motor Vehicle Trauma (MVT) Incidents by Mechanism
Mechanism Count % Count Deaths % Deaths
MVT-Occupant 12,247 76% 304 2.48%
MVT-Motorcyclist 2,093 13% 95 4.58%
MVT-Pedestrian 1,221 8% 137 11.22%
MVT-Pedalcyclist 512 3% 26 5.07%
MVT-Other 36 0.2% 5 13.88%
MVT-Unspecified 6 0.04% 1 16.66%
Total 16,115 100% 568 3.52%

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death, but these deaths and injuries are preventable. 

  1. Wear your seatbelt: According to ASTR data, motor vehicle passengers are four times more likely to die in a car accident if not wearing a seatbelt. Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries during crashes. No matter how short the trip, buckle your seatbelt and safely secure your child(ren) into a car seat appropriate for their age and stage.
  2. Eliminate distractions while driving: Distracted driving is dangerous. In 2021 in Arizona, over 9,000 crashes involved known distractions. Texting is the most alarming distraction. Put away your phone while driving.
  3. Don’t drive impaired: According to ADOT data, alcohol related crashes accounted for 4.63% of all crashes and 20.23% of all fatal crashes. Know your limit when it comes to alcohol consumption. 
  4. Be vigilant of others on the road: In 2021, pedestrians were 4.5 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than the vehicle’s occupant and motorcyclists were 2.5 times more likely to die in a crash with motor vehicles than the vehicle’s occupants. 

Post-crash measures

No one wants to be in a crash, but there are steps you can take so you’re prepared to help yourself and others should you experience one: 

  1. Complete a first aid and CPR course.
  2. Complete a free Stop-the-Bleed course.
  3. Keep a first aid kit in your vehicle for use in the event of a crash.
  4. Take steps to prevent being struck by vehicles approaching the crash scene.
  5. Be prepared to provide the 911 dispatcher the following initial information:
    • Crash location.
    • Number of and description of vehicles involved.
    • Number of persons injured.
  6. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions.

Thank you Arizona trauma centers

In honor of Trauma Awareness Month, ADHS and GOHS recognize Arizona’s 47 trauma centers for the work they do to prevent death and injury in partnership with EMS agencies statewide. 

Each trauma center houses at least one trauma registry professional (May 3 is Trauma Registry Professionals Day) and one individual who works on injury prevention activities (May 10 is Injury Prevention Professionals Day). Trauma centers support public health efforts by regularly submitting data to the Arizona State Trauma Registry. Thank you Arizona trauma centers and EMS providers for all you do! 

This blog was developed in partnership with Nicole Costanza, Interim Director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.