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Study: California Car Accidents Lead to Poor Ranking For State’s Drivers

by John Gomez | Last Updated: November 29, 2016

People often compare drivers by state.  While this is purely an anecdotal analysis when drivers discuss it, there are certain states that have poor reputations in terms of the drivers it allows on their respective roads.  California drivers are not generally thought of as being sound behind the wheel, as is the case with several other states around the country.  Thanks to a recent study, we can break down the quality of drivers by state.  Unfortunately, California does not rank well when compared to the other jurisdictions.  The number of California car accidents that occur obviously played a large role in this dubious ranking, but the researchers who completed the study took several other factors into account as well.  This is not a surprise to San Diego car accident lawyers who regularly meet with people who have been harmed in crashes.

About the Study

Researchers at CarInsuranceComparison.com, a Web site that allows consumers to compare prices on auto insurance policies, completed the statistical analysis.  These researchers broke down data recorded by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, or NHTSA.  The methodology involved a look at five different factors, including:

  • Fatalities per 100 million miles traveled
  • Failure to obey traffic signals or wear seatbelts
  • Percentage of crashes that involved alcohol
  • Percentage of traffic fatalities related to speeding
  • Careless driving, specifically pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities per 100,000 population

Each factor was given a score of 1 through 51 as compared to other jurisdictions.  For instance, if a state had the worst rate of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, it was given a score of 1 for that variable.  The state with the lowest number of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled was given a score of 51.  The numbers assigned to each factor were added together and the state with the total lowest score was named as the state with the worst drivers.

About the Results

According to the calculations, the 10 states with the worst drivers, in order of worst to 10th worst with two ties, are as follows:

  1. Louisiana and Texas (tied)
  2. South Carolina
  3. North Dakota
  4. Delaware
  5. New Mexico
  6. Nevada
  7. Alabama and Arizona (tied)
  8. Montana

Those interested in reviewing all of the rankings can find them here.

The Safest States

The study was positive for many jurisdictions.  The data revealed the following states to have the 10 best drivers, from safest through 10th safest:

  1. Minnesota
  2. Vermont
  3. Virginia
  4. Iowa
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Ohio
  8. Michigan
  9. New Jersey
  10. Maine

It’s interesting to note that 9 out of the 10 states with the best drivers, according to this study, spend at least part of the year dealing with wintry weather.  Meanwhile, the 3 states with the worst drivers are all in climates that do not include snow or ice.

About California

According to the study, only 15 states’ drivers are worse than those you will encounter in California.  The remaining states that kept California out of the Top 10 include:

  1. Colorado
  2. North Carolina
  3. Wyoming
  4. Alaska
  5. Connecticut

California car accidents certainly played a role in finishing in the bottom third of the United States, and the data review revealed the following ranks for the Golden State for each of the variables used:

  • Fatalities per 100 million miles traveled – 32nd
  • Failure to obey traffic signals and wear seatbelts – 15th
  • Percentage of crashes that involved alcohol – 33rd
  • Overall percentage of fatalities related to speeding – 20th
  • Percentage of fatalities related to careless driving – 10th

This is the fifth time that CarInsuranceComparison.com has done this study, and this is also the worst ranking for California to date.  The results from previous studies include:

  • 2011 – 36th worst drivers
  • 2013 – 19th worst drivers
  • 2014 – 26th worst drivers
  • 2015 – 22nd worst drivers

This is clearly anything but a positive trend.  It seems that careless driving is an enormous problem in the state in terms of how many California car accidents it causes.

Statistics – California Car Accidents

Given the state’s dubious ranking, it may be worthwhile to lay out the statistics that relate to California car accidents.  According to the California Office of Traffic Safety:

  • More than 150,000 California car accidents occur every year that lead to at least one injury.
  • These injury crashes lead to more than 220,000 injuries
  • Nearly 3,000 California car accidents occur that lead to at least one fatality.
  • More than 3,000 people die every year in traffic accidents across the state.

These statewide numbers have remained relatively steady in recent years despite all of the efforts by law enforcement and other groups to raise awareness with regards to safe driving.

San Diego County Car Accident Statistics

The statistics regarding San Diego County car accidents are not positive either.  According to UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, or TIMS, the following number of crashes occurred in the county in 2015 alone:

  • Total crashes – 14,836
  • Fatal crashes – 231
  • Severe injury accidents – 864
  • Visible injury accidents – 4,641
  • Crashes leading to complaints of pain – 9,100

These numbers have actually trended upward in recent years, so the problem in San Diego appears to be getting worse and not better.

How a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer Can Help

What the survey and the state and local data show is that a large number of California car accidents occur because at least one person is negligent or reckless while behind the wheel.  People who cause car accidents that lead to injuries or worse force a tremendous amount of loss on those who are wrongfully injured.  That’s why people who are harmed in this manner need to do what’s necessary to make sure that they are made as whole as possible after a crash.  Anyone facing this situation in this area should speak to a San Diego personal injury lawyer before making a decision regarding how to proceed.  If this includes you or someone you love, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation.

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