California Car Accident Statistics for 2023

California Car accident statistics

California Car Accident Statistics for 2023

Car accident statistics show that driving in California or throughout the United States remains a risky endeavor, even in 2023. Earlier this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a preliminary report that found approximately 32,000 people had died in traffic collisions

Statistics from state and federal authorities can show the behaviors and circumstances under which most accidents occur. These numbers can also help identify trends over several years and show whether awareness campaigns or other public safety measures are having an impact.

Drivers can consult statistics to see what dangers they need to protect themselves from when they are behind the wheel.

California Car Accident Statistics

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) maintains statistics regarding traffic crashes in the state. The most recent year for which statistics are available is 2019. These statistics offer a wide range of helpful information.

Overview of California Office of Traffic Safety Statistics

Overall, the total number of traffic-related fatalities in California fell from 3,798 in 2018 to 3,606 in 2019. This represented a decrease of just over five percent from one year to the next.

The mileage death rate, which expresses the number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, was 1.06 in 2019. In other words, for every 100 million miles traveled by motorists on California highways, there was just over one traffic-related fatality.

There was a decrease in the number of teen drivers and occupants killed in California in 2019. In 2018, a total of 219 teen occupants and 95 teen drivers died in motor vehicle wrecks. By 2019, these numbers decreased to 164 teen vehicle occupants and 83 teen drivers killed.

OTS statistics also showed that while the number of individuals under the influence of alcohol who were killed in traffic collisions decreased, the number of drug-impaired drivers who were killed increased.

In the case of alcohol-impaired drivers, the total number of individuals killed decreased from 1,116 in 2018 to 1,066 in 2019. Conversely, in 2019, about 50 percent of all drivers who died in car crashes tested positive for drugs, either illegal or legal. In 2018, only about 42 percent of drivers killed tested positive for any drugs.

California Highway Patrol SWITRS Car Accident Statistics

In addition to the statistics maintained by the California OTS, the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Record System (SWITRS) also compiles car accident statistics. The SWITRS 2019 annual report, which is the most current report available, shows that there were 187,211 car wrecks involving an injury.

How many car accidents happen a day in California? The answer may not be knowable, but this statistic shows that there are more than 500 injury crashes a day in California. In addition, SWITRS recorded 3,737 people killed as the result of 3,438 total fatality wrecks. The 187,211 injury crashes resulted in 269,031 people being hurt in accidents.

All told, there were 190,649 car accidents in California in 2019 that resulted in either an injury or a death. Another 279,899 crashes resulted in only property damage. These numbers give an answer to those who want to know what percentage of car accidents are fatal in California. Just about 0.7 percent of all traffic collisions result in a fatality.

Comparison to Previous Years

The SWITRS report provides a look back at statistics from ten years ago for comparison. These statistics show that the number of fatalities is on a downward trend that began in 2017.

The same can be said for individuals hurt in crashes: in 2017, for example, there were 277,160 people hurt in wrecks, and in 2018 there were 274,854. This decrease is despite a general increase over that same time period in the total population of the state, the number of vehicles registered, and the number of licensed drivers.

Primary Causes of Fatal and Injury Crashes

It’s helpful to learn the leading causes of car accidents. Statistics identify unsafe speed, alcohol use, and drug use. Other prominent causes include failure to yield the right of way, unsafe turning, and disobeying traffic control signs and signals.

Combined, these factors were the primary causes of over 2,000 fatality crashes and 127,000 injury accidents. Specifically:

  • Alcohol impairment accounted for 720 fatal wrecks and 13,652 injury accidents
  • Excessive or unsafe speed led to 533 fatal accidents and 59,399 injury crashes
  • Improper turning was the primary factor in 551 fatal accidents and 27,347 injury accidents
  • Failure to yield the right of way led to 225 fatal crashes but 30,006 injury collisions
  • Disregarding traffic control signs and signals led to 165 fatal collisions and 16,353 injury accidents

These same factors appear to be the primary causes of car accidents in California year after year. While the total number of fatality and injury wrecks may change from one year to the next, these five factors account for well over half of all fatality and injury crashes in the state no matter the year.

Injuries Sustained in Crashes

A variety of injuries can result from a car accident, and they range in severity from bumps and bruises to concussions and head trauma. The speed of the vehicles involved, the type and size of the vehicles, and the safety equipment in use at the time of the crash are all determining factors in how serious an injury might be.

According to the SWITRS statistics, three types of car accidents combined to account for over two-thirds of the total number of fatality and injury accidents.

By far, rear-end collisions caused the greatest number of injuries and fatalities — 91,449. Next were broadside, or T collisions. These accounted for an additional 77,846 individuals hurt or killed. Last, crashes with a driver hitting a stationary object were responsible for killing or injuring 26,258.

Of these three types of collisions, broadside wrecks and crashes with a vehicle hitting a stationary object resulted in the greatest number of severe or suspected severe injuries. Car accident head injury statistics and other severe injury statistics show that:

  • For broadside collisions, 1,626 people suffered severe injuries, another 1,598 were suspected of having a serious injury, and 636 people died
  • For rear-end accidents, 536 people suffered severe injuries, another 1,888 were suspected of having severe injuries, and 358 people died
  • For crashes where the driver hit an object, there were 588 severe injuries, 2,708 instances where a severe injury was suspected, and 830 involving a death

Other types of crashes that resulted in a large number of severe injuries included head-on crashes and collisions between a car and a pedestrian.

As with rear-end crashes, a head-on collision creates the opportunity for your head to whip back and forth quickly, which can cause traumatic brain damage. The force of the impact can also cause you to hit your head on the steering wheel or another surface if your airbag does not inflate.

Types of Vehicles Involved in Fatal and Injury Wrecks

Occupants of passenger cars accounted for the greatest number of individuals hurt and killed in traffic crashes. Perhaps this conclusion is not surprising, considering there are more passenger cars on the road than some other types of vehicles.

In all, 198,561 of the total 22,768 people injured or killed in motor vehicle wrecks were in passenger cars. This is about 10 times the number of people who were hurt or killed in a pickup or panel truck.

Some of the safest vehicles, statistically speaking, include passenger cars towing a trailer, mopeds, and school buses. Combined, fewer than 600 people suffered injuries or died while using these motor vehicles.

Similar to the statistics recited for passenger cars, the low rate of death or injury for these vehicles may be due to the fact that there are far fewer of them on the road.

The data from SWITRS did not include any information on the car accident rate: manual vs. automatic. The absence of this rate or any statistics pertaining to this issue from the SWITRS database suggests that the type of transmission used by drivers involved in a crash was not a statistically significant factor.

People who drove or rode in automatic transmission vehicles were just as likely to be hurt or killed as those whose vehicles had a manual transmission.

County Where Auto Accident Occurred

The statistics from SWITRS also examined the total number of people injured or killed in motor vehicle collisions by the county in which the crash occurred. As you might expect, the more populated a county the greater the number of individuals impacted by traffic crashes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Los Angeles County had the greatest number of traffic-related deaths and injuries. In 2019, according to the statistics, 724 people lost their lives in traffic crashes. This figure works out to about 60 people per month, or two per day. An additional 88,090 people were hurt.

That same year, Sierra County had the fewest number of injuries and fatalities reported. This included 44 people hurt and three people killed.

Yuba County’s 2019 numbers were also comparatively low. A total of 536 people were either injured or killed on the road that year. Of that total number, 14 were fatalities and the remaining 522 were injuries. Other counties in California with numbers similar to Yuba County include Tuolumne County, Nevada County, and Mendocino County.

Safety Equipment Usage

A common refrain from national organizations like NHTSA and their state-level counterparts is that seat belts save lives. You may wonder, though, whether the statistics bear this out.

When you briefly glance at the bare numbers without context, it appears that wearing a seat belt makes no difference to the chances of being injured or killed. After all, there were 436 people over the age of 60 who were hurt or who died in a collision, and 368 of them were wearing their seat belts.

The statistics available from SWITRS on this issue can be misleading, however. Because seat belts are mandatory in California, there is a much greater likelihood that a crash of any type will involve an occupant who is wearing a seat belt versus an occupant who is not.

You should also remember that seat belts reduce but cannot completely eliminate the risk of injury or death.

Statistics from NHTSA attest to the benefit of seat belts. According to this agency’s research, about 14,955 people’s lives were saved by seat belts and another 2,549 could have been saved had they used a seat belt in 2017. Fifty-one percent of all vehicle occupants killed in a crash were not wearing a seat belt.

Why You Need an Experienced Yuba City Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car wreck, know that you have an ally in the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin. We dedicate ourselves to protecting the rights and interests of you and other victims who have been impacted by personal injury accidents and car crashes.

If someone else caused your accident, we will help you hold them accountable. To learn more and to get started, contact the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin today and ask for a case consultation.

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