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California Car Accidents: Statistics and Causes

SAN DIEGO – Traffic collisions are the leading cause of unintended death in the state of California. Vehicle accidents have been trending upward in the state for a number of years, and recently, California topped the list of states with the most traffic crashes. A San Diego car accident lawyer at The Barnes Firm says knowledge about the statistics and causes of accidents can help Californians stay safe.

California Car Accident Statistics

Between 2015 and 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatal traffic accidents in California rose by 13 percent. Fatality crash numbers for the state totaled 3,387 in 2015 and increased to 3,837 in 2016. The 2016 figure sealed California’s position as the state with the highest number of fatal vehicle accidents in the country.

In 2015, Texas had the highest number of deadly vehicle accidents in the U.S., totaling 3,582. But in 2016, while fatality accidents rose in the state of Texas, they did not rise as much as in California. Texas saw a total of 3,797 deadly accidents that year.

Figures for 2017 in California show a slight decline in the number of fatal accidents, according to NHTSA. Of the 2017 traffic fatalities in California, they can be broken down into smaller categories:

  • 529 motorcyclists
  • 124 were bicyclists
  • 858 were pedestrians
  • 2091 were vehicle occupants

A total of 3,602 traffic fatalities occurred that year in the state. Almost 2,200 of those accidents happened in urban areas, while slightly more than 1,400 occurred in rural areas. This is opposite of the national pattern, in which most deadly accidents occur in rural areas.

Causes of Car Accidents in California

A San Diego car accident lawyer says one of the primary reasons that California tops other states for traffic accidents and fatalities is the size of the state’s population. States with higher numbers of people have more vehicles on the road and, therefore, more accidents. This is why California, Texas, Florida, and New York are usually leading the country in accident numbers — they are the most populous states.

That said, there are a number of other factors that contribute to the high number of traffic accidents in California. Some of the top factors include:

  • Speeding – Speeding-related fatalities totaled 1,070 in California in 2017.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities totaled 1,120 in California in 2017.
  • Distraction – Though California has strict distracted driving laws, distraction remains one of the top causes of accidents in the state.

Together, speeding and alcohol accounted for 2,190 of the state’s 2017 fatalities, which was more than 60 percent of the deadly accidents. NHTSA has not tracked distraction the same way, in part because some accident report forms still do not have a place to cite distracted driving as a cause.

Staying Safe on California Roadways

California’s car accident statistics may be frightening, but it’s important to keep in mind that most accidents can be prevented. Because most of the collisions and fatal accidents in California occur in urban areas, drivers need to be especially attentive on city roadways.

Three of the best ways to avoid causing an accident are (1) driving the speed limit, (2) avoiding drinking and driving, and (3) staying off your cell phone. Even when you are unlikely to be ticketed, follow all speed limits, arrange for sober rides, and keep your phone stored away while driving.

What To Do If You’re In An Accident

Even the safest drivers can be involved in an accident. If you’ve been injured, you should first get immediate medical attention. Even when it appears you’ve sustained minor injuries, they could be symptoms of much more problematic injuries.

It’s also important to get the right legal team on your side. At The Barnes Firm, our experienced team of San Diego car accident lawyers can help hold negligent drivers accountable for their actions. We’ll also put our experience to work for you to help you get the best result possible.

Contact us online, or call us for a FREE case evaluation.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000