California Cities Where Traffic Accidents Happen Most Often

Published on 01/04/2023 by Monica Burneikis

It is not surprising to learn that the larger a California city is, the higher the number of traffic accidents there are. As a result, while Bay Area Cities are trumped by some of the larger cities in southern California, the Bay Area still ranks at the top of the list of California cities where traffic accidents happen most often.

Bay Area Cities Made The Top 10 Of Most Traffic Accident Lists

The Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) from Cal Berkeley lists all reported traffic accidents, which can be researched by those causing injuries, severe injuries, and fatalities. These reports provide a comprehensive analysis of accident reports by city and the number of reported accidents each year.

In the past three years, the California cities where traffic accidents happen most often are:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. San Diego
  3. Sacramento
  4. San Francisco
  5. San Jose
  6. Long Beach 
  7. Oakland 
  8. Anaheim
  9. Riverside
  10. Bakersfield

Notice that Bay Area cities (San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland) all feature in the top seven. 

Cities Where Traffic Accidents Cause The Most Serious And Fatal Injuries

When we change the data search from “use all injuries” to “use fatalities and serious injuries,” the data is even more alarming for Bay Area drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. The cities with the highest numbers of serious and fatal injuries are:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Sacramento
  3. San Francisco
  4. Sacramento 
  5. San Jose
  6. Long Beach
  7. Oakland
  8. Bakersfield 
  9. Riverside
  10. Fresno

In that list, four Bay Area cities make the Top 7. Also worth noting is that two of the cities on this list, Sacramento and Fresno, are considered part of the Bay Area’s “mega-region” due to the tens of thousands of commuters that drive from those areas into the Bay Area for work.

When you compare these lists with the ranking of cities by population density, there is no exact correlation. This shows us that some cities (San Francisco and Oakland, for example) that rank lower in population, but higher in the number of accidents resulting in severe injury and fatalities. 

The lesson here is: Bay Area drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists must adopt defensive driving/walking/riding strategies and exert extreme caution for their well-being and for the well-being of others.

Most Common Causes Of Accidents In California Cities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), driver error is the leading cause of traffic accidents. The main causes of accidents resulting from driver error include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Inexperience
  • Fatigue
  • Speeding

6 Things You Can Do To Minimize Your Car Accident Risk

With these causes in mind, here are five things you can do to minimize the risk of an accident and reduce the chances of experiencing (or causing) a serious or fatal injury.

All passengers must wear seatbelts or age-relevant safety restraints

There is no excuse for not wearing a seatbelt. Every passenger must be safely buckled in before any vehicle begins moving.

Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road

These days, cell phones are one of the most common reasons for distracted driving. Texting, emailing, and checking social media while driving is now the leading cause of distracted driving. Do not do it.

Other leading causes of distracted driving leading to accidents are:

  • Applying makeup/shaving
  • Adjusting music/audio entertainment
  • Interacting with other passengers
  • Handling/interacting with children or pets

Commit to changing your driving habits, making it a priority to focus on the road. Turn the cell phone off or store it in the trunk if you have to.

Never drive under the influence (use a ride-sharing platform)

Now that vaping THC is legal and socially acceptable, the rates of DWIs are steadily increasing. According to the DMV and other traffic statistics, 42% of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes tested positive for legal and/or illegal drugs - and that number goes up yearly. The California Highway Patrol speculates that there could be a 70 percent increase in marijuana-related DUI arrests this year.

With the prevalence of ride-sharing opportunities in the Bay Area, there is no excuse to be driving while intoxicated or under the influence of any substances known to impair thought processes, judgment, and reflexes.

Avoid driving when you are over-tired

This is not easy, especially if you are a long-haul commuter. Driving without adequate rest puts you at risk of falling asleep at the wheel or zoning out to the point that you become unaware of your surroundings. Both expose you to causing an accident.

Obey the speed limit to avoid traffic accidents

The statistics around speeding and accident risk are astounding:

  • In 2018, speeding was the cause of 31% of motorcyclist fatalities, 18% of car driver fatalities, 14% of light-truck driver fatalities, and 7% of large-truck driver fatalities. (US Department of Transportation, 2020) (Source:
  • Speeding killed 10,111 people in the US in 2016, accounting for more than a quarter (27%) of all traffic fatalities. (NHTSA, 2018) (Source:
  • Speed was a factor in 31% of US teen driver fatalities. (NHTSA, 2018) 
  • 42% of the surveyed drivers said they do not consider going 10 mph over the speed limit to be speeding. Another 10% said they don't think a 20-mph increase is speeding. (Everquote, 2016)
  • National data shows that even a 10-mph speed increases the risk of a crash by 9.1%. (Fortune, 2016) 

Obeying the speed limit is one of the best things you can do to minimize the risk of a car accident, not to mention the risk of serious injury or fatality.

Burneikis Law Helps Traffic Accident Victims Get What They Deserve

Were you involved in a Bay Area traffic accident? Contact Burneikis Law to ensure you are supported through the insurance claims process. If you were injured or a loved one was involved in a fatal accident, our compassionate representation gets the financial compensation required to care for you today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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