The statistics behind vehicle accidents in California

Vehicle Accidents in California: What the Statistics Say

Table of Content

Not only is California the third largest state in the county (based on total area), but it is also the most populated—representing approximately 12 percent of the entire total US population. The state is home to some of the most populated state cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco. With such a large population, it should come as no surprise that California has the most registered vehicles (over 30 million) out of all the states. Unfortunately, more drivers on the road often means more vehicle accidents. By total number, California is the state with the most fatal car accidents each year. Below, our team at Forward Law Group has gathered recent data and statistics related to vehicle collisions and car accidents in California. 

Statistics of Vehicle Accidents in California

Here are the key statistics related to car accidents in California, based on the most recent available data:

  • 57,466 police-reported car crashes occurred throughout California in 2021. In 2022, there have been 24,710 police-report accidents to date. (Source
  • Across the state, car crashes resulted in a total of 3,786 fatalities in 2021. (Source
  • In 2021, vehicle accidents in California resulted in 19,152 fatalities and/or serious injuries. (Source)
  • In 2021, car crashes caused by distracted driving resulted in 139 fatalities. This was a 31.1 percent increase from 2020, in which there were 139 distracted-driving fatalities in California. (Source)
  • In 2020, Los Angeles and San Diego had the most distracted driving fatalities (11) of all counties in California (Source)
  • In 2020, there were 756 unrestrained occupant (drivers passengers who were not wearing a seatbelt) fatalities across the state. (Source)
  • From 2019 to 2020, there was a 25.3% decrease in the total number of reported car accidents, due largely to fewer drivers on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source)
  • After things began to open back up and more drivers got back to their daily commutes, there was a 19.6% increase in crashes from 2020 to 2021. (Source)
  • Of all the vehicle accidents that occurred in California in 2021, 45.3% (26,061) were caused by unsafe speeds; 20.3% (11,685) were caused by improper turning; 10.9% (6,315) were caused by DUIs; and 23.3% (13,405) were due to other causes. (Source)

Vehicle Accidents by California Counties

According to the most recent data from the California Statewide Integrated Traffic Reports System, Los Angeles County had the most car crashes that caused fatalities and serious injuries in 2021—the total number coming in at 4,651. San Bernardino ranked second on the list with 1,373 fatalities and serious injuries caused by car accidents, and San Diego ranked third with 1,343 fatalities and serious injuries.

Number of Fatalities Due to Car Crashes, Ranked by California County, 2021

  1. Los Angeles - 744
  2. San Bernardino - 367
  3. San Diego - 294
  4. Riverside - 263
  5. Sacramento - 190
  6. Kern - 182
  7. Orange - 164
  8. San Joaquin - 121
  9. Fresno - 119
  10. Stanislaus - 101

Other Data Related to Accidents and Traffic Safety in California

In May 2022, the California Office of Highway Safety and the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research and Education Center published results from the California Traffic Safety Survey 2022. Some of the key findings gathered from the survey are highlighted below.

  • The biggest safety concern for drivers who were surveyed was “speeding/aggressive driving” (75%) followed by “distracted driving” (71.5%). 
  • Just over half (50.2%) of drivers who were surveyed indicated that they had been hit or nearly hit by a distracted driver who was talking or texting on a cell phone. 
  • Only  43.3% of respondents reported that they either “Always” or “Sometimes” use alternate transportation when drinking.

Large Truck Accident Statistics in California

Beyond regular passenger vehicles, accidents involving large trucks (also referred to as semi-trucks, big rigs, or 18-wheels) are also a big concern in California, particularly on the highways. According to a recent report by the California Air Resources Board from August 2022, there are about 1.8 million large trucks that are registered in the state. Below, we highlight some of the data and statistics related to large truck accidents in California:

  • According to the National Safety Council, in 2020, California was second among states with the most deaths resulting from large truck crashes with 398 deaths. Texas was the only state that had more annual fatal crashes. (Source)
  • As stated in a comprehensive report from 2015 by the Southern California Association of Governments, the four freeway sections in LA County and the Inland Empire with the highest concentrations of truck crashes per mile annually were (Source):
  • The 710 at the 60 in the East LA Interchange (7.2 accidents)
  • The 5 between the 710 and the 10—also in the East LA Interchange (6.6 accidents)
  • The convergence of the 60 and the 57 (6 accidents)
  • The 710 between the 105 and the 91 (5.8 accidents)

Motorcycle Accident Statistics in California

Besides being one of the states with the highest number of registered vehicles, California also has the greatest number of motorcycles registered across the entire nation at 952,977 motorcycles (as noted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in 2021). Since motorcycles also share the road with vehicles, our team at Forward Law Group thought it would be useful to also provide some details related to motorcycle accident data.  

  • Based on the most recent available data, there were 539 motorcyclist fatalities in 2020. (Source)
  • The top five primary crash factors for motorcycle accidents in 2020 were (Source):
  • Unsafe speed (30.9 percent)
  • Improper turning (22.2 percent)
  • Automobile right of way (16.1 percent)
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (8.9 percent)
  • Traffic signals and signs (4.4 percent)
  • California accounted for 9.6 percent of all 5,579 motorcyclist fatalities in the entire US in 2020. (Source)
  • From 2019 to 2020, there was a 9.8 percent increase in motorcycle fatalities in the state. (Source)
  • Of all counties in California, Los Angeles County had the highest number of motorcyclist fatalities. (Source)

Closing Remarks

As evident from the data, car accidents are highly common in a state as large as California. There are drivers constantly traversing the roads, highways, and interstates across the state. To minimize your risk of being in a car accident, we always recommend driving carefully and paying the utmost attention while operating your vehicle. 

If you are ever involved in a crash and need a lawyer in Los Angeles for your car accident case, our team of experienced attorneys at Forward Law Group is here to help. From the start of your case to the end, our team here at Forward Law Group will go the extra mile to ensure that you get the outcome that you desire. If you have been involved in a large truck accident or a motorcycle accident, we can also help you. For more information or to learn more, call our friendly and knowledgeable staff today at (818) 471-8389.