Car accidents are, unfortunately, a routine part of modern life. With many of our cities designed around the use of personal automobiles, dangerously congested highways and high-speed collisions are an inevitability. For this reason, state and federal governments have robust programs in place to gather and interpret data surrounding automobile accidents.

There are several reputable sources you can turn to for information about California car accidents.

The California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS)

The California Highway Patrol’s SWITRS report is a deep and reliable source of data about traffic accidents in the state of California. The most recent report was published in 2017. A snapshot of its most notable statistics about California traffic accidents is as follows:

  • – 3,904 people were killed in 3,582 crashes (there is around an 8% chance that a fatal traffic accident will kill more than one person)
  • – 277,160 people were injured in 193,564 crashes (about 1.43 people injured in each injury-causing crash)

The SWITRS report contains a wealth of other valuable information as well, including:

  • – Ten-year summaries of traffic statistics
  • – Monthly breakdowns of people killed or injured in traffic accidents from 2008 to 2017
  • – Breakdown of injuries and deaths by the hour of day, day of week, weather conditions, type of intersection, and more
  • – Breakdown of injuries and deaths by county
  • – Relevant demographic information, such as motor vehicle registrations, number of licensed drivers, and miles traveled
  • – Information about the financial impact of traffic accidents, such as property damage
  • – Statistics for common safety factors, such as seat belt use or the involvement of alcohol
  • – Separate sections devoted to trucking accidents and motorcycle accidents

One issue with the SWITRS report is that the most recent data is already five years old. While the 2017 report provides great insight into long-term traffic accident trends in California, it does not give us accurate info about whether those trends have changed in recent years.

The California Office of Traffic Safety Quick Stats

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) also compiles and publishes many useful statistics about collisions and other issues on California’s roadways. Some of their statistics come from the SWITRS data mentioned above, but the data currently available from the OTS does go slightly further than what is currently available on the Highway Patrol’s SWITRS website, chronologically speaking. OTS includes key figures from as recently as 2019 on a “quick stats” page, some of which include:

  • – Total traffic fatalities went down more than 5% from 2018 to 2019 (from 3,798 to 3,606).
  • – Fatal crashes involving alcohol also decreased by 4.5%.
  • – Half of all drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 and tested for drugs tested positive, which is up 8% from 2018.
  • – Fatalities involving a victim not wearing their restraint properly decreased more than 2% from 2018 to 2019 and account for around 625 deaths each year.
  • – Overall, motorcycle fatalities and motorcycle fatalities involving someone not wearing a helmet both decreased.
  • – Motor vehicle fatalities among teenage drivers and passengers both had double-digit decreases from 2018 to 2019.


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is another valuable resource for statistics if you want to zoom out and look at the nation as a whole rather than focus on California specifically. Their website also has data going back many years, so you can easily compare trends over time. A couple of key 2019 numbers from IIHS include:

  • – 36,096 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2019. This means California is responsible for around 10% of fatal crashes.
  • – The economic cost of automobile crashes to the United States is $242 billion.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also hosts a wealth of impressive tools on its website if you want to really dive into researching nationwide traffic safety data. Some of the information available through the NHTSA includes:

  • – Links to various crash data publications
  • – State by state data
  • – Links to the fatality reporting system
  • – Data visualizations in the form of maps and charts


FAQs About California Car Accident Statistics 2024

How many car accidents happen in California every year?

There are nearly 200,000 automobile accidents that result in injury in California every year. If you add every minor accident where no injuries are sustained, the estimated number of total incidents, both reported and unreported, would increase to well over half a million. Each year over 3,000 of these accidents result in death.

Which state had the most car accidents in 2020?

All of the top five states for overall number of car accidents are in the New England area, with Massachusetts being number one. California is in the top five nationwide for fatal accidents, along with Texas and Florida. Around 3,000 traffic deaths occur in each of those states every year.

What is the statistical chance of getting in a car accident?

Around 77% of drivers report experiencing a car crash at some point in their lives, and the chance of dying in an automobile accident in the United States is a little more than 1 in 100. Your likelihood of personally experiencing a crash will vary greatly depending on how often and how far you drive. For every 1,000 miles you spend on the road, you have around a 1 in 366 chance of being in an automobile accident of some sort.

How many fatal car accidents happen in California?

Over 3,000 traffic fatalities occur in California every year, making it one of the top three states in the nation for traffic deaths. It is believed that most traffic deaths could be avoided if driver error — such as poor decision-making, lack of focus, improper or no use of safety equipment, and driving while tired — wasn’t a factor.

Hurt in a Car Accident in California? Don’t Be a Statistic

Many people who get injured in serious car accidents never get the help they need to truly recover. The experienced personal injury team at Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates will review your automobile accident injury case and determine the best legal strategy for moving ahead and seeking the damages you need to support yourself along the road to recovery. Contact us online to learn more.