Common Road Hazards in Phoenix (And How to Handle Them)

For most people, driving comes natural. What many of them forget, however, is that getting behind the wheel always creates the risk of getting into an accident. When drivers fail to notice hazards and various circumstances on the road, they increase their chances of getting into an accident – especially in busy cities. With care and caution, most of these accidents can be avoided. Here are some common road hazards to watch out for on Phoenix area roads.


car seat accidentEnvironmental shifts underneath the asphalt surface of the road can cause cracks. Persistent heavy traffic and weather conditions erode the asphalt and turn those cracks into potholes. These road hazards continue to get bigger and bigger with heavy traffic. Left unchecked, they can become as large as a vehicle. This can cause obvious problems if the hole becomes flooded or too deep to drive over. Even the smallest potholes can be a danger if they damage a vehicle’s tires or suspension and cause the driver to lose control. If you frequently drive on a road that is riddled with dangerous potholes, contact Arizona’s Department of Transportation to have the area surveyed and remedied.

Lane Merges and On-Ramps/Off-Ramps

Merging lanes exist at every entry and exit point of Arizona’s highways. Whether you’re getting on the freeway or trying to exit, you will have to deal with other drivers trying to do the same. The general rule of thumb when entering the freeway is match the speed of the highway traffic, look for a safe merge gap, move into the other lane, and join the general flow of traffic. The same principle applies for exiting the freeway: merge safely into a gap in traffic and maintain speed until you reach the exit ramp. However, many Phoenix drivers forget that the traffic already on the highway has the right of way and fail to check their blind spots before moving into what they thought was a safe gap to merge. This can cause an accident in a very dangerous spot.

Disappearing lanes can also cause accidents in Phoenix. Remember, the flow of traffic always has the right of way. Speeding up to pass on the right or obstructing the flow of traffic can result in a serious accident.

If your vehicle was sideswiped in an acceleration lane or an exit/entrance ramp, try to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic to avoid a larger accident. Whenever you enter a freeway, keep in mind that you don’t have the right of way and must yield to the flow of traffic. When you exit a freeway, you have the right of way over the drivers trying to merge into the weave lane (the lane used for both entering and exiting the freeway), though you still must exercise good judgement in deciding when to merge.

Pedestrian Right of Way

Pedestrian accidents are generally the most deadly. Pedestrians at crosswalks have the right of way when they have the “WALK” sign at intersections. However, it isn’t uncommon to see people stray away from the crosswalk and cross the road at inappropriate times. As a driver, you still must give pedestrians the right of way even though they may be obstructing the flow of traffic.

Treat bicyclists the same way as you would pedestrians: give them the right of way. Bicyclists need to adhere to their own set of safety rules, though. If you are going to ride in the street, you need to use the appropriate bike lane. All motorists should give bicyclists a cushion of space – about three-feet – to avoid a bicycle accident.

Blind Spots

Every driver has a blind spot. This is a spot in the rear driver and passenger side of the vehicle that side mirrors often do not catch. Blind spot accidents occur most often for drivers changing lanes. Even when you turn your head for a quick check, sometimes your vehicle’s frame will “hide” that there is actually a vehicle at your rear. You can help prevent accidents related to blind spots by:

  1. Signaling ahead of time that you want to move lanes
  2. Waiting until you can see the entire front hood of any vehicle behind you before moving over

Cellphone Use while Driving
phoenix car accidentAny type of cell phone usage while driving, including calls, texts or video chats, is a form of distracted driving. We also see higher risk of car accident injuries among teens and seniors using mobile devices while driving. This is not limited to calls or text; using GPS is also considered a driving distraction.

If you are near a motorist that is clearly distracted by their cell phone use, move at least one lane away from them and exercise caution passing them. If you feel the driver poses a very evident risk for causing an accident, pull over safely and report the vehicle’s license plate to local law enforcement.

Parked Cars on Narrow Streets

Phoenix has many narrow streets, especially in Mesa, Peoria, Tempe, Old Town Scottsdale and Downtown Phoenix. Parked cars alongside these already narrow streets are a driving hazard, as they lower visibility and maneuverability, increasing the propensity for single vehicle or head-on car accidents.

Unexpected Construction Zones

Drivers not paying attention to signage for restricted lanes can often find themselves face-to-face with an unexpected lane merge for a construction zone. Some zones are not publicly announced until it’s too late. Always drive with anticipation of unexpected lane or traffic changes.

Speeding Photo Radar Zones

While these are most found in school zones, photo radar does prompt drivers to heed their speeds. Drivers that were speeding before entering a photo radar zone will often slam on their brakes, increasing the risk for a read-end accident. Drive aware of the speed limit and pay attention to the road ahead to stay ahead of any sudden changes in the speed of traffic.

As a driver, you should always be surveying the street for potential accident causes. Be a defensive driver – not an aggressive or paranoid driver. You cannot ensure everyone else around you is just as aware as you are, but you can drive cautiously to anticipate traffic changes.

If you were involved in an auto accident where a driving hazard was part of another’s negligence, you can do a search for “car accident lawyer near me” on your phone, or just give Skousen, Gulbrandsen & Patience a call. We operate on a no recovery, no fee injury claim basis. Let us evaluate your accident case during your FREE initial consultation.